Francis greets the 250 thousand present at the welcoming ceremony, "encountering one another does not mean having to look alike, or think the same way or do the same things". "And this is a criterion for distinguishing people: bridge builders and wall builders. These builders of walls that sow fear try to divide and frighten people. And you want to be bridge builders ".
Panama (AsiaNews) - Bringing the culture of love and encounter into the world and therefore being "builders of bridges and not of walls". This is the first message of Pope Francis to the 250,000 young people taking part in the 43rd Youth Day, which yesterday had its "welcoming ceremony".
Arrived at 4.45 pm (21.45 GMT) at Campo Santa María La Antigua (Cinta Costera), Francis was welcomed by five young people in traditional costumes, coming from the 5 continents, while those present sang the anthem of WYD 2019, "Hàgase en mì , segùn tu palabra "," For me your word is fulfilled ". Then, a group of Panamanian athletes gifted a white stole and a handcrafted canvas made by the Gunas Indians to the Pope.
Four young Americans then presented the eight patrons of this WYD: Oscar Romero the "shepherd who accompanies" and the young José Sánchez del Río, the "bare foot" traveller. The humble friar St. Martin of Porres and St. Rose of Lima, first saint of America. Still St. John Bosco, "a gift of light for the young" and the blessed Sister Maria Romero, a life given to the poor. Finally John Paul II, who showed the world "the young face of Christ" and Juan Diego, who in some winter roses found up the "Lady who brings us the light of the Gospel".
Francis began "How good it is to get together again, this time in a land that receives us with such radiance and warmth! As we gather in Panama, World Youth Day is once more a celebration of joy and hope for the whole Church and, for the world, a witness of faith.". "Peter is with you, to celebrate and renew you in faith and hope. Peter and the Church walk with you, and we want to tell you not to be afraid, to go forward with the same fresh energy and restlessness that helps make us happier and more available, better witnesses to the Gospel. To go forward, not to create a parallel Church that would be more “fun” or “cool” thanks to a fancy youth event, as if that were all you needed or wanted. That way of thinking would not respect either you or everything that the Spirit is saying through you."
Citing the final document of the Synod on young people, Francis said that the Synod Fathers wrote: "With you, we want to rediscover and reawaken the Church’s constant freshness and youth, opening ourselves to a new Pentecost". But this is only possible if, as the Pope said, "we know how to walk listening to and listening to each other, if we can testify announcing the Lord in service to our brothers", a concrete service.
Francis said that he knew the journey to Panama was nt easy for many, but as true disciples "you were not afraid to risk and walk". "We come from different cultures and peoples, we speak different languages and we wear different clothes. Each of our peoples has had a different history and lived through different situations. We are different in so many ways! But none of it has stopped us from meeting one another and rejoicing to be together. The reason for this, we know, is that something unites us. Someone is a brother to us. You, dear friends, have made many sacrifices to be able to meet one another and in this way you have become true teachers and builders of the culture of encounter. By your actions and your approach, your way of looking at things, your desires and above all your sensitivity, you discredit and defuse the kind of talk that is intent on sowing division, on excluding or rejecting those who are not “like us”. It is because you have that instinct which knows intuitively that “true love does not eliminate legitimate differences, but harmonizes them in a superior unity”. "On the other hand, we know that the father of lies prefers people who are divided and quarrelling to people who have learned to work together".
"Encountering one another does not mean having to look alike, or think the same way or do the same things". "And this is a criterion for distinguishing people: bridge builders and wall builders. These builders of walls that sow fear try to divide and frighten people. And you want to be bridge builders".
"The culture of encounter is a call inviting us to dare to keep alive a shared dream. Yes, a great dream, a dream that has a place for everyone. The dream for which Jesus gave his life on the cross, for which the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost and brought fire to the heart of every man and woman, in your hearts and mine, in the hope of finding room to grow and flourish. A dream named Jesus, sown by the Father in the confidence that it would grow and live in every heart. A dream running through our veins, thrilling our hearts and making them dance whenever we hear the command: “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35)".
To keep us united, he continued, is "The certainty of knowing that we have been loved with a profound love that we neither can nor want to keep quiet about a love that challenges us to respond in the same way: with love. It is the love of Christ that urges us on (cf. 2 Cor 5:14).A love that does not overwhelm or oppress, cast aside or reduce to silence, humiliate or domineer. It is the love of the Lord, a daily, discreet and respectful love; a love that is free and freeing, a love that heals and raises up. 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, with the future than the past. It is the quiet love of a hand outstretched to serve, a commitment that draws no attention to itself. It is a love that gives life".
He concluded : "The most hope-filled result of this Day will not be a final document, a joint letter or a programme to be carried out". The most hope-filled result of this meeting will be your faces and a prayer. Each of you will return home with the new strength born of every encounter with others and with the Lord". "Wherever we may be and whatever we may do, we can always look up and say, “Lord, teach me to love as you have loved us”. Will you repeat those words with me? “Lord, teach me to love as you have loved us”.