MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE EU YOUTH CONFERENCE
Prague, 11-13 July 2022
Dear young people!
I am very happy to address you who are participating in the European Youth Conference. I would like to tell you something that is very close to my heart. Above all, I invite you to transform the “old continent” into a “new continent”, and this is only possible with you.
I know that your generation has some good cards to play: you are attentive young people, less ideologized, accustomed to studying in other European countries, open to volunteering and sensitive to environmental issues. This is why I feel there is hope.
As young Europeans, you have an important mission. If in the past your ancestors went to other continents, not always for noble interests, it is now up to you to present the world with a new face of Europe.
“Europe”: meaning “wide eye”
Regarding the origin of the name “Europe”, there are still no certain explanations. Among the various hypotheses, one is particularly suggestive: it goes back to the Greek words eurús ops, meaning “wide eye”, evoking the ability to see ahead and beyond. Europa, a mythological figure who made the gods fall in love with her, was called “the wide-eyed maiden”. So I also think of you, young Europeans, as people with a wide, open gaze, capable of looking ahead and beyond.
Perhaps you have heard of the initiative, launched in September 2019, called the Global Compact on Education. It is an alliance between educators around the world to educate the younger generations in fraternity. Seeing, however, how our world is being led by adults and elders, it seems that perhaps you should be the ones to educate adults in fraternity and peaceful coexistence!
Among the first commitments of the Educational Pact is to listen to children, adolescents and young people. So dear young people, make your voices heard! If they do not listen to you, shout even louder, make noise; you have every right to have your say on what concerns your future. I encourage you to be enterprising, creative and critical.
First Proposal: Acceptance
Among the various proposals of the Global Compact on Education, I would like to recall two that I also noted in your Conference. First, be open to acceptance, and hence to the value of inclusion.
Don’t let yourselves be drawn into short-sighted ideologies that want to show others, those who are different from ourselves, as enemies. Others are an asset. The experience of the millions of European students who have taken part in the Erasmus Project testifies to the fact that encounters between people from different peoples help to open eyes, minds and hearts.
Be in solidarity with everyone, not only with those who look like us, or give off an image of success, but with those who suffer, whatever their nationality or social status. Let us not forget that millions of Europeans in the past have had to emigrate to other continents in search of a future. I myself am the son of Italians who emigrated to Argentina.
The main objective of the Educational Pact is to educate everyone to a more fraternal life, based not on competitiveness but on solidarity. ...Those schools that combine educational quality with service to others should be valued, since the purpose of education is personal growth directed towards the common good. These experiences of solidarity will change the world, not the “exclusive” (and exclusionary) experiences of elite schools. Excellence yes, but for all, not just for some.
I would encourage you to read my Encyclical Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020) and the Document on Human Fraternity (4 February 2019), which I signed together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. I know that many Muslim universities and schools are reading these texts with interest, and so I hope you too will find them inspiring. Education, then, should have as its goal not only to “know oneself” but also to know others.
(To be continued)
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