Meeting with Young People at the Cathedral of Holy Mary
Monday, 25 November 2019

Dear Young Friends,

PopeJapan5Thank you for being here. Seeing your enthusiasm gives me joy and hope. I am also grateful to Leonardo, Miki and Masako for their words of testimony. It takes great courage to open your hearts and share as you did.

I know that there are young people from other nationalities among you, some of whom are seeking refuge. Let us learn to build together the society we want for tomorrow.

As I look out at you, I can see the cultural and religious diversity of the young people living in Japan today, and also something of the beauty that your generation holds for the future. Your friendship with one another and your presence here remind everyone that the future is not monochrome; if we are courageous, we can contemplate it in all the variety and diversity of what each individual person has to offer. How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace, without all of us having to be the same! ... We need to grow in fraternity, in concern for others and respect for different experiences and points of view!
Our meeting today is so joyful precisely because we are saying that the culture of encounter is possible, that it is not a utopia, and that you young people have the special sensitivity needed to carry it forward.

Bullies are afraid
Thank you, Leonardo, for sharing the experience of bullying and discrimination. More and more young people are finding the courage to speak up about experiences like yours. The cruellest thing about bullying is that it attacks our self-PopeJapan3confidence at the very time when we most need the ability to accept ourselves and to confront new challenges in life. Sometimes, victims of bullying even blame themselves for being “easy” targets. They can feel like failures, weak and worthless, and end up in very tragic situations: “If only I were different…”

Deep down, bullies are afraid, and they cover their fear by a show of strength. And in so doing, take note, when you sense, when you see that someone “needs” to bully another: he is the weak one. The victim is not the weak one; it is the one who bullies someone weaker because he needs to feel like a big boy, the powerful one. ...

We must all unite against this culture of bullying, and learn to say “Enough!” It is an epidemic, and together you can find the best medicine to treat it. It is not sufficient that educational institutions or adults use all the resources at their disposal to prevent this tragedy; it is necessary that among yourselves, you join in saying: “No! No to bullying, no to attacking another. That’s wrong”. There is no greater weapon against these actions than standing up in the midst of our classmates and friends and saying: “What you are doing – bullying – is wrong”. ...

Leonardo, we can always look at all the things we don’t have, but we can also come to see all the life that we can give and share with others. The world needs you. Never forget that! The Lord needs you. ...

 To make space for God and for others 
PopeJapan... if one of us looks a person up and down to give them a hand, to help them get up, that man or that woman is truly great. ...this involves developing a very important but underestimated quality: the ability to` learn to make time for others, to listen to them, to share with them, to understand them... So please make time for your family, dedicate time to your friends, and also make time for God through prayer.

That is exactly what Miki talked about. Miki asked how young people can make space for God in a society that is frenetic and focused on being competitive and productive. More and more we see that a person, a community or even a whole society can be highly developed on the outside, but have an interior life that is impoverished and underdeveloped, lacking real life and vitality; they seem like ready-made dolls that have nothing inside. ...

Loneliness terrible form of poverty 
Mother Teresa, who worked among the poorest of the poor, once said something prophetic, something deep: “Loneliness and the feeling of being unloved is the most terrible form of poverty”. It might be good to ask ourselves: “For me, what is the worst form of poverty, what would be for me the greatest kind of poverty? And if we are honest, we will realise that the worst kind of poverty we could face is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.

...Combating this spiritual poverty is a task to which we are all called, and in which you, the youth, have a special role to play, because it demands a major change in priorities, in our options. It means recognizing that the most important thing is not what I have or can acquire, but with whom I can share it. This is something beautiful that you can offer to our world. Young people need to give something to the world. Bear witness that a “social friendship”. ...

In a special way, I ask you to extend the hand of friendship to those who come here, often after great sufferings, seeking refuge in your country. Indeed, a small group of refugees is present with us here, and your kindness to them will show that they are not strangers. Not in the least, for you regard them as brothers and sisters.

Dear young people,

PopeJapan2I thank you for your friendly attention, and thank you for your patience, for all of this time you have given me and for sharing something of your lives. Don’t cover up your dreams! Don’t set them aside. Give your dreams plenty of room, dare to glimpse vast horizons and see what awaits you if you aspire to achieve them together. Japan needs you, and the world needs you to be alert, not sleeping; it needs you to be generous, cheerful and enthusiastic, capable of making a home for everyone. I promise to pray for you, that you will grow in spiritual wisdom, that you will be able to ask the right questions, that you will forget the mirror and be able to look into the eyes of others.

To all of you, and to your families and friends, I extend my best wishes, my blessing, and I ask you to remember also to send me good wishes and your blessings. Thank you very much   

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