Category Archives: Youth

Do not let go of joy, Pope Francis urges youth in Mozambique

MozamiqueYouth perform a dance in the Maxaquene Pavilion in Maputo before the arrival of Pope Francis Sept. 5, 2019. Credit: Vatican Press Pool Photo.

.- Pope Francis encouraged young people of different faiths in Mozambique Thursday to not give up in the face of their country’s challenges, but to confront them with joy and hope.

“How do you make your dreams come true? How do you help to solve your country’s problems?” the pope asked Sept. 5, repeating questions asked him by Mozambican young people.

“My words to you are these. Do not let yourselves be robbed of joy. Keep singing and expressing yourselves in fidelity to all the goodness that you have learned from your traditions. Let no one rob you of your joy!”

Pope Francis arrived in Maputo, Mozambique in the evening Sept. 4, kicking off a Sept. 4-10 trip to three countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including the island nations of Madagascar and Mauritius.

The interreligious meeting with youth was held at the Maxaquene Pavilion. Maxaquene is a sports club based in Maputo.

Pope Francis entered the pavilion to joyful cheers, singing, and chants of “reconciliation.” The meeting opened up with a song, followed by musical and dance performances by groups of Christian, Mulim, Hindu, and Catholic youth. The pope’s speech was followed by a prayer.

During the encounter, Pope Francis told the estimated 4,500 young people present that “together, you are the beating heart of this people and all of you have a fundamental role to play in one great creative project: to write a new page of history, a page full of hope, peace and reconciliation.”

“I would like to ask you a question,” he added. “Do you want to write this page? When you were singing you sang the word reconciliation.”

He also told them “God loves you, and this is something on which all our religious traditions are agreed.”

“For him, you have worth; you are not insignificant. You are important to him, for you are the work of his hands and he loves you,” he said.

Quoting Christus vivit, his post-synodal exhortation to young people, Francis said “the love of the Lord has to do more with raising up than knocking down, with reconciling than forbidding, with offering new changes than condemning, the love of God has more to do with the future than the past.”

“I know that you believe in this love that makes reconciliation possible and I thank you.”

The pope warned against resignation and anxiety, which he said are two attitudes fatal to dreams and hope.

“These are great enemies of life, because they usually propel us along an easy but self-defeating path, and the toll they take is high indeed… We pay with our happiness and even with our lives,” he said.

It can be easy to give up when things are painful and difficult and everything seems to be falling apart, but that is not the solution, he continued.

He referenced popular Mozambican soccer player “the Black Panther” Eusébio da Silva.

“He began his athletic career in this city. The severe economic hardships of his family and the premature death of his father did not prevent him from dreaming,” the pope stated. “His passion for football [soccer] made him persevere, keep dreaming and moving forward.”

This led him to score 77 goals for his team, Maxaquene, “despite having plenty of reasons to give up…” Francis noted.

He said being part of a team was an important part of da Silva’s success. On a team, everyone has differences, different gifts, he stated, just like at the meeting today. “We come from different traditions and we may even speak different languages, but this has not stopped us from being here together as a group,” he said.

The pope argued that a lot of suffering is caused by people dividing and separating others, choosing those who can “play” and those who have to sit “on the bench.”

You can do something for your country by staying united, building friendships, and avoiding enmity, he said. He had the young people repeat that “social enmity, social division is destructive.”

“‘An old proverb says: “If you want to get somewhere in a hurry, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk with others.’ We need always to dream together, as you are doing today. Dream with others, never against others.”

“Keep dreaming the way you dreamed and prepared for this meeting: all together and without barriers. This is part of Mozambique’s ‘new page of history,’” he stated.

The pope also encouraged young people not to fear mistakes, but to persevere, and to not let worry make them abandon their dreams.

He used another Mozambican athlete as an example: Olympic champion runner Maria Mutola.

She did not win a gold medal in her first three Olympic Games, the pope noted, but on her fourth attempt, the 800-meter athlete won the gold medal in Sydney. And this did not make her self-absorbed. Despite her Olympic gold medal and her nine world titles, she did not forget her people or her roots, he said.

Pope Francis advised young people to listen to their elders and to stay rooted in their history and tradition, saying the older generations have much to offer.

“Sometimes we older people put you in difficulty, we frighten you. We can try to make you act, speak and live the same way we do. You will have to find your own way, but by listening to and appreciating those who have gone before you,” he said.

Noting the two cyclones which struck Mozambique earlier this year, Pope Francis said there is “a pressing challenge of protecting our common home.”

“Many of you were born at a time of peace, a hard-won peace that was not always easy to achieve and took time to build,” he said. “Peace is a process that you too are called to advance, by being ever ready to reach out to those experiencing hardship.”

“How important it is to learn to offer others a helping and outstretched hand! Try to grow in friendship with those who think differently than you, so that solidarity will increase among you and become the best weapon to change the course of history.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/do-not-let-go-of-joy-pope-francis-urges-youth-in-mozambique-73916

The Chile school where pupils carry petrol bombs over pencils

ChilePupils have been involved in violent clashes with the police in the capital, Santiago.GETTY IMAGES

“No student throws a Molotov cocktail, just because they feel like it and think that it’s fun,” says Rodrigo Pérez.

The 17-year-old is president of the student association at the Instituto Nacional (National Institute) in Chile’s capital, Santiago. He is talking about the motivation behind his fellow students’ behaviour.

The boys’ state school is one of the country’s most prestigious. It has a stringent selection process and boasts a number of former presidents as alumni.

But over the past few months, the school has hit the headlines less for its academic achievements and more for the action of some of its pupils, who have thrown petrol bombs from the school’s roof and taken over classrooms.

Tear gas and water cannons were used to break up some of the most heated protests.

The school has installed security cameras and police search the bags of pupils as they enter the premises in order to prevent a repeat of the most destructive incidents, which were led by students who hid their identity behind masks.

A handful of other famous boys’ state schools have also taken part in protests, but the Instituto Nacional is the most extreme.

‘Fed up with labels’

“It’s like a pressure cooker which has finally exploded and led them to this kind of violence,” says Rodrigo of those who are protesting.

He may disagree with the methods the masked students are using, but he understands their motivation only too well: “My school reflects the state of education in Chile – a lack of resources and care for the students.”

There are complaints of rat infestations, blocked bathrooms with sewage leaking, cold showers, broken windows, leaking roofs and bullying teachers.

“We have been asking for the last six years for things to change. We are fed up with being labelled as terrorists and delinquents, when all we want is to be heard.” he explains.

The masked students – like many other pupils at the school – want more resources to be pumped into their school, including enough teachers and a reform to the national curriculum, which they say is too old fashioned and does not reflect 21st-Century thinking.

Some pupils think the only way to get people’s attention is to throw petrol bombs and take over classrooms.

Long-running problem

Critics say that the problem of state schools suffering from underfunding dates back to the rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 80s when they were put under the control of local authorities, which they accuse of siphoning off the money earmarked for the schools.

Felipe Alessandri, the mayor of the region where the school is located and who is in charge of the school’s finances, rejects this. “Since, I have been mayor, every peso that I have been given has been used for the infrastructure of the school,” he says.

He blames the students for the school’s ill state of repair. “Every time we repair something, the students damage it. We fixed some of the bathrooms over the holidays and by the first afternoon of the new term they had graffiti all over them and were damaged.”

He argues that the troublemakers are a small group of highly politicised students out to cause disruption.

Mayor Alessandri believes tough measures are needed to stop them. “We can’t have students pouring petrol on teachers and throwing bombs. We need to stop them,” he argues.

‘Heavy-handed policy’

His views are shared by the government of right-wing President Sebastián Piñera which has introduced a policy called “Aula Segura” (Safe Classroom) to contain the protests.

Under Aula Segura pupils suspected of taking part in violent protests can be excluded from school with immediate effect, even if their behaviour is still under investigation.

Rodrigo says this new measure – which sometimes results in pupils who have done no wrong being suspended – is heavy handed and has further antagonised already disgruntled students.

He says that it has also caused the number of masked protesters to swell from around 20 to 100 out of a total student body of 4,000.

“When the state dictates its policies by force, with police invading the school to remove students and using tear gas and water cannons, it’s showing us that violence is their answer to the situation and that generates resistance,” Rodrigo argues.

Deep divisions

Parents are divided about how to deal with the problem, with three parent associations taking different stands.

Judy Valdés leads one of them. “Even the students who throw Molotov cocktails have rights, because they are children who are still growing and that is what the mayor and the government don’t understand,” she says but stresses that she does not agree with their methods.

Ms Valdés wants to see more therapists in the school to help deal with the depression and other mental health problems many of the students are experiencing .

The pupils themselves say that attending class can sometimes resemble entering a war zone and that even those not actively taking part in the protests can get caught up in the melee.

Natalia Canales Riquelme’s 14-year-old son Santiago is one of them.

Santiago “wasn’t masked, he wasn’t throwing stones, he doesn’t even know how to turn on the gas cooker, let alone throw petrol bombs,” his mother says of the day he almost died when he got caught in the middle when police confronted the protesters with tear gas.

“I was nearly suffocating, I thought I was going to die. When we finally managed to get out of the courtyard I fell over and all the other students trampled me as they rushed to get away,” Santiago recalls.

Mayor Alessandri says that he is listening to the demands of the pupils and their parents and that he is trying to find the money needed to modernise the school.

But with emotions running high among the students it is not clear whether the mayor’s promise of improvements will be enough to convince them to stop the protests.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49117547

 

Pope Francis: Young people are the ‘now’ of God

youth photoPope Francis says Mass at Campo San Juan Pablo II for World Youth Day Panama Jan. 27, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

By Hannah Brockhaus

Panama City, Panama, (CNA/EWTN News) – Serving God and his mission is not a passing thing, but can and should be pursued in the present, with one’s entire life, Pope Francis said Sunday at the closing Mass for World Youth Day in Panama City.

“Brothers and sisters, the Lord and his mission are not a ‘meantime’ in our life, something temporary; they are our life!” the pope said Jan. 27. “Not tomorrow but now, for wherever your treasure is, there will your heart also be.”

Jesus “wants to be our treasure, because he is not a ‘meantime,’ an interval in life or a passing fad; he is generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves,” he continued. “You, dear young people, are not the future but the now of God.”
At the end of the Mass, which officially closed World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, announced that the next international youth gathering will be in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022.

“At the conclusion of this celebration,” Pope Francis said, “I thank God for having given us the opportunity to share these days together and to experience once more this World Youth Day,” adding that the “faith and joy” of the young people present “made Panama, America and the entire world shake!”

“I ask you not to let the fervor of these days grow cold. Go back to your parishes and communities, to your families and your friends, and share this experience, so that others can resonate with the strength and enthusiasm that is yours.”

In his homily at Mass in Campo San Juan Pablo II, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel passage, which speaks of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, when he returned to Nazareth where he had grown up and preached in the synagogue.

Not everyone in the synagogue was ready to listen to Jesus, Francis said, and the same can happen to Catholics today, when people do not believe that God can be “that close and real.”
He said, “You too, dear young people, can experience this whenever you think that your mission, your vocation, even your life itself, is a promise far off in the future, having nothing to do with the present.”

“We do not always believe that the Lord can invite us to work and soil our hands with him in his Kingdom in that simple and blunt a way,” he continued. So instead, people prefer “a distant God: nice, good, generous, but far-off, a God who does not inconvenience us.”

But that is not who God is, he said, “He is concrete, close, real love. Indeed, this ‘concrete manifestation of love is one of the essential elements in the life of Christians,” he said, quoting a 2006 homily of Benedict XVI.

Jesus “invites you and calls you in your communities and cities to go out and find your grandparents, your elders; to stand up and with them to speak out and realize the dream that the Lord has dreamed for you,” he said.

“Do you want to live out your love in a practical way? May your ‘yes’ continue to be the gateway for the Holy Spirit to give us a new Pentecost for the Church and for the world,” he concluded.

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-young-people-are-the-now-of-god-72051