Meeting with the Young People
Pope Francis

Pope Francis met with young people on the campus of Santo Tomàs University in Manila, Philippines, on Sunday morning, hearing their stories and leading them in prayer. Departing from his prepared text, the Holy Father addressed the young people in Spanish, with his translator from the Secretariat of State, Msgr. Mark Miles, providing English translation. Below, please find a transcript of the translation of the Holy Father's remarks. (Vatican Radio)

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Dear Young Friends,

When I speak spontaneously I do it in Spanish, because I don’t know the English language. May I do it? Thank you very much.This Fr Mark, a good translator.

First of all, a sad piece of news. Yesterday, as Mass was about to start, a piece of scaffolding fell and, upon falling, hit a young woman who was working in the area and she died. Her name is Kristel. She worked for the organisation preparing for that Mass. She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for Catholic Relief Services as a volunteer. I would like all of you who are young like her to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we will pray to Our Mother in Heaven. Let us pray.

(Prays) Hail Mary…

Let us also pray for her parents. She was an only child. Her mother is coming from Hong Kong and her father is here in Manila.

(Prays) Our Father…

It is a joy for me to be with you this morning. I greet each of you from the heart, and I thank all those who made this meeting possible. During my visit to the Philippines, I wanted in a particular way to meet with young people, to listen to you and to talk with you. I want to express the love and the hopes of the Church for you. And I want to encourage you, as Christian citizens of this country, to offer yourselves passionately and honestly to the great work of renewing your society and helping to build a better world.

In a special way, I thank the young people who have offered words of welcome to me.

To Jun and Leandro Santos II and to Rikki, thank you very much. There’s only a very small representation of girls among you. Too little. Women have much to tell us in today’s society. Sometimes we are too “machistas” and we don’t allow enough space to women. But women can see things from a different angle to us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions we men are unable to understand. Look out for this fact: she is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer. She couldn’t put it into words but expressed it with tears. So when the next pope comes to Manila, please let there be more girls.

I thank you Jun for talking about your experience so bravely. As I said, the heart of your question has no reply. Only when we too can cry about the things you said can we come close to answering that question. Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and weep, then we can understand something. There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You expressed something like this. It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor. But if Christ had had that kind of compassion he would have greeted a couple of people, given them something, and walked on. But it was only when he was able to cry that he understood something of our lives. Dear young boys and girls, today’s world doesn’t know how to cry. The emarginated people, those left to one side, are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But we don’t understand much about these people in need. Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears. I invite each one here to ask yourself: have I learned how to weep? Have I learned how to weep for the emarginated or for a street child who has a drug problem or for an abused child? Unfortunately there are those who cry because they want something else.

This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today and let us not forget this lesson. The great question of why so many children suffer, she did this in tears. The response that we can make today is: let us really learn how to weep.

In the Gospel, Jesus cried for his dead friend, he cried in his heart for the family who lost its child, for the poor widow who had to bury her son. He was moved to tears and compassion whe n he saw the crowds without a pastor. If you don’t learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian. This is a challenge. When they posed this question to us, why children suffer, why this or that tragedy occurs in life – our response must be either silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous, don’t be afraid to cry.

Then came Leandro Santos II and his question. He also posed a good question: the world of information. Today, with so many means of communication we are overloaded with information. Is that bad? No. It is good and can help. But there is a real danger of living in a  way that we accumulate information. We have so much information but maybe we don’t know what to do with that information. So we run the risk of becoming museums of young people who have everything but not knowing what to do with it. We don’t need young museums but we do need holy young people. You may ask me: Father, how do we become saints? This is another challenge. It is the challenge of love. What is the most important subject you have to lean at university? What is most important subject you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. This is the challenge that life offers you: to learn bow to love. Not just to accumulate information without knowing what to do with it.. But through that love let that information bear fruit.

For this the Gospel offers us a serene way forward: using the three languages of the mind, heart and hands – and to use them in harmony. What you think, you must feel and put into effect. Your information comes down to your heart and you put  it into practice. Harmoniously.  What you think, you feel and you do. Feel what you think and feel what you do. Do what you think and what you feel. The three languages...

Can you repeat this? To think. To feel. To do. And all in harmony... 

Real love is about loving and letting yourself be loved. It’s harder to let yourself be loved than to love. That is why it is so difficult to come to the perfect love of God. We can love Him but we must let ourselves be loved by Him. Real love is being open to the love that comes to you. The love that surprises us. If you only have information you are not surprised. Love surprises because it opens a dialogue of loving and being loved. God is a God of surprise because He loved us first. God awaits us to surprise us. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God. Let us not have a computer psychology that makes us think we know it all. All answers on computers - but no surprises. The challenge of love. God reveals himself through surprises.

Think of St Matthew. He was a good banker. But he let people down because he imposed taxes against his own people to give to the Romans. He was full of money. Jesus passed by, looked at him and said: “Follow me”. He couldn’t believe it. It you have the opportunity, see Caravaggio’s picture of him. Jesus calls him and those around say: “Him? He betrayed us! He is no good! He hoards money!” But the surprise of being loved overcomes him. The day when Matthew left home for work, saying goodbye to his wife, he couldn’t imagine he would come home without money and have to prepare a feast for the one who loved him first. God surprised Matthew more than the money he had. Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Don’t be afraid of surprises. They shake the ground beneath our feet and make us insecure, but they move us forward in the right direction.

Real love allows you to spend yourselves, to leave your pockets empty. Think of St Francis who died with empty hands and empty pockets but with a full heart. Remember: no young museums, and wise young people. To be wise use three languages: think well, feel well and do well. And to be wise allow yourselves to be surprised by the love of God. That will guarantee a good life.

Rikki came up with a good plan for what we can do in life with all young people’s activities.

Thank you, Rikki, for what you and your friends do. I’d like to ask you a question: you and your friends help others but do you allow yourselves to receive? Answer in your heart.

In the Gospel we just heard, there was a beautiful phrase, for me the most important of all: Jesus looked at the young man and he loved him. When you see Rikki and his friends you love them because they do good things. Jesus says something very important: you lack one thing. Let us listen to this word in silence: you lack only one thing. (Repeats)

What is it that I lack? To all of you who Jesus loves so much, I ask you: do you allow others to give you from their riches to you who have not? The Sadducees, Doctors of the Law, in the time of Jesus, gave much to the people, they taught the people the law, but they never allowed the people to give them something. Jesus had to come to allow himself to feel compassion and to be loved.

How many young people among you are like this? You know how to give and yet you have ever learned how to receive. You still lack one thing. Become a beggar. This is what you still lack. Learn how to beg. This isn’t easy to understand. To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive with humility. To learn to be evangelized by the poor, by those we help, the sick, orphans, they have so much to give us. Have I learned how to beg? Or am I self-sufficient? Do I think I need nothing? Do you know you too are poor? Do you know your own poverty and your need to receive? Do you let yourselves be evangelised by those you serve? This is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to others. Learn how to open your hand from your very own poverty.

There are some points I have prepared. The first, I already told you: to learn how to love and to learn how to be loved. There is a challenge  which is a challenge of u. This is not only because your country more than many others is likely to be seriously affected by climate change. There is the challenge, the concern for the environment. And finally, there is the challenge for the poor, to love the poor, with your bishops. Do you think of the poor? Do you feel with the poor? Do you do something  for the poor? Do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have?

This is what I wish to tell you all today. Sorry if I haven’t read what I prepared for you but there is a phrase that consoles me: that reality is superior to ideas. The reality that you have is superior to the paper I have in front of me. Thank you very much. Pray for me!

[Vatican Radio]
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This is the Holy Father's prepared text.

Dear Young Friends,

It is a joy for me to be with you this morning. I greet each of you from the heart, and I thank all those who made this meeting possible. During my visit to the Philippines, I wanted in a particular way to meet with young people, to listen to you and to talk with you. I want to express the love and the hopes of the Church for you. And I want to encourage you, as Christian citizens of this country, to offer yourselves passionately and honestly to the great work of renewing your society and helping to build a better world.

In a special way, I thank the young people who have offered words of welcome to me. They have expressed eloquently, in your name, your concerns and worries, your faith and your hopes. They have spoken of the difficulties and the expectations of the young. Although I cannot respond to each of these issues at length, I know that, together with your pastors and among yourselves, you will prayerfully consider them and make concrete proposals for action in your lives.

Today I would like to suggest three key areas where you have a significant contribution to make to the life of your country. The first of these is the challenge of integrity. The word "challenge" can be understood in two ways. First, it can be understood negatively, as a temptation to act against your moral convictions, what you know to be true, good and right. Our integrity can be challenged by selfish interest, greed, dishonesty, or the willingness to use other people.

But the word "challenge" can be also understood positively. It can be seen as invitation to courage, a summons to bear prophetic witness to what you believe and hold sacred. In this sense, the challenge of integrity is something which you have to face now, at this time in your lives. It is not something you can put off until you are older or have greater responsibilities. Even now you are challenged to act with honesty and fairness in your dealings with others, young and old alike. Do not avoid the challenge! One of the greatest challenges young people face is learning to love. To love means to take a risk: the risk of rejection, the risk of being taken advantage of, or worse, of taking advantage of another. Do not be afraid to love! But in love, too, maintain your integrity! Here too, be honest and fair!

In the reading we have just heard, Paul tells Timothy: "Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity" (1 Tim 4:12). You are called, then, to set a good example, an example of integrity. Naturally, in doing this, you will encounter opposition, negativity, discouragement, and even ridicule. But you have received a gift which enables you to rise above those difficulties. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit. If you nurture this gift by daily prayer and draw strength from sharing in the Eucharist, you will be able to achieve that moral greatness to which Jesus calls you. You will also be a compass for those of your friends who are struggling. I think especially of those young people who are tempted to lose hope, to abandon their high ideals, to drop out of school, or to live from day to day on the streets.

So it is essential not to lose your integrity! Not to compromise your ideals! Not to give in to temptations against goodness, holiness, courage and purity! Rise to the challenge! With Christ, you will be – indeed you already are! – the architects of a renewed and more just Filipino culture.

A second key area where you are called to make a contribution is in showing concern for the environment. This is not only because this country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change. You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ! Respect for the environment means more than simply using cleaner products or recycling what we use. These are important aspects, but not enough. We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person. Men and women are made in the image and likeness of God, and given dominion over creation (cf. Gen 1:26-28). As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.

Three months ago, your Bishops addressed these issues in a prophetic Pastoral Letter. They asked everyone to think about the moral dimension of our activities and lifestyles, our consumption and our use of the earth’s resources. Today I ask you to do this in the context of your own lives and your commitment to the building up of Christ’s kingdom. Dear young people, the just use and stewardship of the earth’s resources is an urgent task, and you have an important contribution to make. You are the future of the Philippines. Be concerned about what is happening to your beautiful land!

A final area in which you can make a contribution is one dear to all of us. It is care for the poor. We are Christians. We are members of God’s family. No matter how much or how little we have individually, each one of us is called to personally reach out and serve our brothers and sisters in need. There is always someone near us who is in need, materially, emotionally, spiritually. The greatest gift we can give to them is our friendship, our concern, our tenderness, our love for Jesus. To receive Jesus is to have everything; to give him is to give the greatest gift of all.

Many of you know what it is to be poor. But many of you have also experienced something of the blessedness that Jesus promised to "the poor in spirit" (cf. Mt 5:3). Here I would say a word of encouragement and gratitude to those of you who choose to follow our Lord in his poverty through a vocation to the priesthood and the religious life; by drawing on that poverty you will enrich many. But to all of you, especially those who can do more and give more, I ask: Please, do more! Please, give more! When you give of your time, your talents and your resources to the many people who struggle and who live on the margins, you make a difference. It is a difference that is so desperately needed, and one for which you will be richly rewarded by the Lord. For, as he has said: "you will have treasure in heaven" (Mk 10:21).

Twenty years ago, in this very place, Saint John Paul II said that the world needs "a new kind of young person" – one committed to the highest ideals and eager to build the civilization of love. Be those young persons! Never lose your idealism! Be joyful witnesses to God’s love and the beautiful plan he has for us, for this country and for the world in which we live. Please pray for me. God bless you all!

[Provided by the Vatican Press Office]


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