18-01-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 012
|Francis to Filipino youth: act with integrity, honesty, and do not be afraid to love|
Vatican City, 18 January 2015 (VIS) – The Pope visited the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas to meet with the leaders of the main religious confessions represented in the Philippines. Currently attended by forty thousand students, the University of Santo Tomas is managed by Dominican Fathers, and it is the largest and oldest university in Asia. It recently celebrated the fourth centenary of its foundation and has received the patronage of the Spanish crown since 1680.
Upon arrival the Pope was received by the chancellor and the rector, and greeted the religious leaders. Shortly after he toured the campus by Popemobile to greet the ten thousand students who awaited him. He then proceeded to the sports field, able to hold thirty thousand people, where he gave an off-the-cuff address in Spanish, answering various questions such as “Why do children suffer?”, “How does one live true love?”, “How can one contribute professionally to compassion and mercy without falling prey to materialism?”.
Beforehand, the Holy Father shared with those present the sad news of the death of the young volunteer Kristel Padasas in Tacloban yesterday. “She was 27 years old; she was young, like you, and worked for an association. I would like us all to pray in silence a minute and then invoke our heavenly Mother. And let us pray also for her parents”.
The original text of the Pope's planned discourse is published below:
“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 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'. 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. 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'. 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'.
“Twenty years ago, in this very place, St. 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 civilisation 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!”.
Following the meeting, the Pope returned directly to the apostolic nunciature in Manila.
|The Pope meets the father of the volunteer who died in Tacloban|
Vatican City, 18 January 2015 (VIS) – Immediately after his return to the apostolic nunciature yesterday around midday local time, the Pope had a long meeting with the father and cousin of Kristel Padasas, the volunteer who died yesterday in Tacloban following his visit, according to information provided by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. “It was an emotional encounter that lasted over twenty minutes, with Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle as interpreter. The father said that he was shocked but consoled by the knowledge that his daughter had been able to prepare for the people's encounter with the Pope. The Holy Father unsuccessfully attempted to contact the mother in Hong Kong by telephone; she will arrive in Manila ”.
|Concluding Mass in Manila: the child Jesus, protector of the Philippines|
Vatican City, 18 January 2015 (VIS) – After dining and resting for a couple of hours, the Pope proceeded to the “Quirino Grandstand-Rizal Park” stadium, situated in a sixty-hectare urban park and built in preparation for the ceremony for the proclamation of independence on 4 July 1946. It commemorates the national hero Jose Rizal, a poet, writer and revolutionary executed by the Spanish in 1896. The precise location of his execution is indicated by a monument representing the point zero from which the distances of the roads in Luzon are measured.
“It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Nino Sunday with you”, said the Pope in his homily. “The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: 'Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it'. The Santo Nino continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness, bringing the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guiding us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Nino also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.
“In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: 'We are all God’s children'. That is what the Santo Nino tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today St. Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.
“The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed! God 'has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens'. These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a special blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.
“God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in His sight. He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of His truth and His justice in this world. He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.
“Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being 'modern', 'like everyone else'. He distracts us with the view promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: to forget, in one’s heart, to be children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Nino is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.
“The Santo Nino also reminds us that this identity must be protected. The Christ Child is the protector of this great country. When He came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus Himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: St. Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So He reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programmes contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.
“In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, He embraces them and blesses them. We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.
“It was a frail child, in need of protection, Who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and He triumphed over them by the power of His cross. Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to Him, to Jesus Who came among us as a child. May He enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace. May the Santo Nino continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world”.
He concluded by adding, “Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless you all”.
Following the Mass, the final event of Pope Francis' stay in the Philippines, Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle thanked him for his visit. After putting on the yellow raincoat he had also used yesterday, the Holy Father toured the area in the Popemobile in order to bid farewell to the many faithful who lined the streets. Finally, he retired to the apostolic nunciature where he dined privately and rested.