APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
IN THAILAND AND JAPAN
(19 - 26 November 2019)
MEETING WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS AND OTHER RELIGIONS
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok)
Friday, November 22, 2019
Brothers in the episcopate,
Distinct representatives of different religious denominations,
Representatives of the University Community,
Thank you for your warm welcome. I am grateful to Bishop Sirisut and Dr. Bundit Eua-arporn for their kind words. I also appreciate the invitation to visit this famous University, the students, teachers and staff who give life to this house of studies, as well as the opportunity you offer me to meet with representatives of the various Christian communities and with those in charge of other religions that honor us with their presence. I express my gratitude for your presence here, with special esteem and recognition for the precious cultural heritage and spiritual traditions of which you are children and witnesses.
One hundred and twenty-two years ago, in 1897, King Chulalongkorn, from whom this first University takes its name, visited Rome and had an audience with Pope Leo XIII: it was the first time that a non-Christian head of state was received in the Vatican. The memory of that important encounter, as well as of his period of reign, characterized among the many merits by the abolition of slavery, challenges us and encourages us to take on a decisive role on the path of dialogue and mutual understanding. And this should be done in a spirit of fraternal involvement, which helps to put an end to the many slavery that persist in our day, I am thinking especially of the scourge of trafficking and human trafficking.
The need for recognition and mutual esteem, as well as cooperation between religions, is even more urgent for contemporary humanity; today's world is faced with complex problems, such as economic-financial globalization and its serious consequences in the development of local societies; the rapid progress - which apparently promotes a better world - coexists with the tragic persistence of civil conflicts: conflicts over migrants, refugees, famines and war conflicts; and coexist with the degradation and destruction of our common home.
All these situations warn us and remind us that no region or sector of our human family can be thought of or realized as alien or immune to others. These are all situations that, in turn, require that we venture to weave new ways of constructing the present history without having to denigrate or disrespect others. Gone are the times when the logic of insularity could predominate as a conception of time and space and impose itself as a valid tool for conflict resolution. Today it is time to imagine, with courage, the logic of encounter and mutual dialogue as a way, common collaboration as conduct and mutual knowledge as a method and criterion; and, in this way, offering a new paradigm for conflict resolution, contributing to understanding between people and safeguarding creation. I believe that in this field religions, like universities, without having to renounce their particular characteristics and their particular gifts, have much to contribute and offer; everything we do in this sense is a significant step to guarantee to younger generations their right to the future, and it will also be a service to justice and peace. Only in this way will we provide them with the necessary tools, so that they may be the protagonists in the way of generating sustainable and inclusive lifestyles.
These times demand from us that we build solid foundations, anchored on respect and recognition of the dignity of people, on the promotion of an integral humanism capable of recognizing and demanding the defense of our common home; on a responsible administration that protects the beauty and exuberance of nature as a fundamental right to existence. The great religious traditions of the world bear witness to a spiritual heritage, transcendent and widely shared, which can offer solid contributions in this sense, if we are able to venture to meet without fear.
We are all called not only to pay attention to the voice of the poor around us: the marginalized, the oppressed, the indigenous peoples and religious minorities, but also not to be afraid of generating instances, as they are already timidly beginning to develop, where we can join and work together. At the same time, we are required to take on the duty to defend human dignity and to respect the rights of conscience and religious freedom, to create spaces where we can offer some fresh air in the certainty that "all is not lost, because beings humans, able to degrade themselves to the extreme, they can also overcome themselves, return to choose the good and regenerate themselves, beyond any psychological and social conditioning that is imposed on them "(Enc. Laudato si, 205).
Here in Thailand, a country of great natural beauty, I would like to highlight a distinctive note that I consider essential, and to a certain extent, part of the riches to be "exported" and shared with the other regions of our human family. You appreciate and care for your elders - it is a great wealth! -, respect them and give them a preferential place, so that they can ensure the necessary roots and so your people do not corrupt themselves by following certain slogans, which end up emptying and mortgaging the soul of the new generations. With the growing tendency to discredit local values and cultures, by imposing a single model, "we are witnessing a tendency to" homogenize "the young, to dissolve the differences that are typical of their place of origin, to transform them into manipulable subjects made into series. Thus a cultural destruction is produced, which is as serious as the extinction of animal and plant species "(Esort. Ap. Postsin. Christus vivit, 186). Continue to let young people know the cultural baggage of the society in which they live. Helping young people to discover the living riches of the past, to meet with their own roots making memories, to meet with the elderly, is a true act of love towards them, in view of their growth and the decisions they will have to make (see ibid ., 187).
All this perspective necessarily involves the role of educational institutions like this University. Research, knowledge help to open new ways to reduce inequality between people, strengthen social justice, defend human dignity, seek ways of peaceful resolution of conflicts and preserve the resources that give life to our land. My gratitude is directed, in a special way, to the educators and academics of this country, who work to ensure that present and future generations have the abilities and, above all, the wisdom of an ancestral root, which will enable them to participate in the promotion of the common good of society.
Dear brothers, we are all members of the human family and everyone, in the place he occupies, is called to be an actor and co-responsible for the construction of a culture based on shared values, leading to unity, mutual respect and harmonious coexistence.
Once again I thank you for your invitation and your attention. I offer my prayers and my best wishes for your efforts, aimed at serving Thailand's development in prosperity and peace. Upon you here present, on your families and on those who enjoy your service, I invoke the divine blessing. And I ask you, please, to do it for me. Thanks!
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation