TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE "POLICORO PROJECT"
OF THE ITALIAN EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE
Sala Clementina - Saturday, 5 June 2021
Pope Francis met with representatives of companies and cooperatives part of a “Progetto Policoro” of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Pope tells the group of 100 young people led by Cardinal Bassetti to always be a "sign of hope" in these difficult times.
FULL TEXT Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I welcome you. I am pleased to share with you the 25th anniversary of the Policoro Project of the Italian Church. I thank the two "spokespersons" who presented it and I extend my greetings to all the young people and collaborators involved in these years. I thank the Cardinal President and the Secretary General, as well as those who accompany you on your formative journey. And thanks for the beautiful gift announced of the statue of St. Joseph! Thank you!
The Policoro Project was and is a sign of hope, especially for many areas of Southern Italy lacking in work or exploiting workers. Today you are called to be hope in a new way - to be hope is a new way - because this important anniversary comes at a time of severe socio-economic crisis due to the pandemic. I would like to suggest four verbs that can be useful for your journey and for it to be concrete.
The first is to animate , that is , to give courage. Never as in this time have we felt the need for young people who, in the light of the Gospel, know how to give a soul to the economy, because we are aware that "social problems are answered with community networks" (Encyclical Letter Laudato si ' , 219). It is the dream that the “Economy of Francis” initiative - of San Francesco is also cultivating! You call yourselves "community animators". In fact, communities must be animated from within through a style of dedication: to be builders of relationships, weavers of a humanity in solidarity, when the economy is "vaporized" in finances, and this is a new, more sophisticated form. of the chain of Sant'Antonio that we all know. It is a question of helping parishes and dioceses to walk and plan on the "great theme [which] is work", trying to "make the seeds that God has placed in each one germinate, his abilities, his initiative, his strength »(Encyclical letter Brothers all, 162). It is a question of dignity. The dignity of the person does not come from money, it does not come from the things that are known, it comes from work. Work is an anointing of dignity. Who does not work is not worthy. So simple.
Dealing with work is promoting the dignity of the person. In fact, work does not come from nothing, but from man's ingenuity and creativity: it is an imitation of God the creator. You are not one of those who limit themselves to complaining about the lack of work, but you want to be proactive, protagonists, to encourage the growth of entrepreneurial figures at the service of the common good. The objective to be pursued is that of "access to work or its maintenance, for all" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritate , 32). You young people do not lack creativity - do not be afraid, do not be afraid -: I encourage you to work for an alternative economic model to the consumerist one, which produces waste. Sharing, fraternity, gratuitousness and sustainability are the pillars on which to found a different economy. It is a dream that requires audacity, in fact it is the audacious who change the world and make it better. It is not voluntarism: it is faith, because true newness always comes from the hands of God. This is to animate , the first verb.
The second verb is to dwell . We ask you to show us that it is possible to inhabit the world without stepping on it - this is important -: it would be a great achievement for everyone! Living the earth does not mean first of all owning it, no, but knowing how to fully live relationships: relationships with God, relationships with brothers, relationships with creation and with ourselves (Encyclical Letter Laudato si ' , 210). I urge you to love the territories in which God has placed you, avoiding the temptation to flee elsewhere. Indeed, the very peripheries can become laboratories of fraternity. From the outskirts often arise inclusion experiments "by all, in fact, you can learn something, no one is useless, no one is superfluous" (Enc. Lett. Brothers all , 215). May you help the Christian community to live the pandemic crisis with courage and hope. God never abandons us and we can become a sign of his mercy if we know how to bend over the poverty of our time: the young people who cannot find work, the so-called Neet, those who suffer from depression, those who are unmotivated, those who are tired in life, on those who have stopped dreaming of a new world. And there are young people who have stopped dreaming. It is sad, because a young person's vocation is to dream. The Servant of God Giorgio La Pira argued that unemployment is "a waste of productive forces". 
And then, at this moment in Italy, I want to stop on one serious thing: unemployment that makes many young people seek alienation. You know so many things… A consistent number are seeking suicide. Then, alienate oneself, go out of life, at a time when we are not in the summer of Italian demographic life; we are in the winter! We lack young people and for this reason young people cannot give themselves the luxury of not entering this job. The average age in Italy is 47! Well, you are old. It has no future. "But how can I have children if I don't have a job?" ? ". It's all another way! You have to react against this. May young people begin to dream, to be parents, to have children. And for this, they have jobs. Work is a bit of a guarantee for this future.
Moreover, it is time to live in the social, work and politics without fear of getting your hands dirty. You can lend a hand to open the doors and windows of the parishes, so that the problems of the people enter ever more into the hearts of the communities.
And don't be afraid to also inhabit conflicts. We find them in the world, but also on an ecclesial and social level. Patience is needed to transform them into a capacity for listening, for recognizing the other, for mutual growth. Tensions and conflicts are part of life, but we know that their "resolution on a higher plane" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium , 228) is the sign that we have aimed higher, higher than our particular interests, to get out of the quicksand of social enmity.
The third verb is to be passionate . And this is a bit of fashion everywhere: the social enmity and not the social friendship to which we are all called. The third verb, perhaps, is the youngest of all four: to be passionate. There is a style that makes the difference: the passion for Jesus Christ and for his Gospel. And this can be seen in the “more” that you put in to accompany other young people to take their lives in hand, to be passionate about their future, to develop adequate skills for the job. May the Policoro Project always be at the service of concrete faces, of people's lives, especially the poor and the least of our society. As I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit , «I want to remember what the big question is: Many times, in life, we waste time asking ourselves:“ But who am I? ”. You can ask yourself who you are and live a whole life looking for who you are. But ask yourself: " Who am I for?". You are for God, no doubt. But He also wanted you to be for others, and He placed in you many qualities, inclinations, gifts and charisms that are not for you, but for others "(n. 286). In this sense, you can ask yourself: who am I passionate about? First of all: am I passionate? And then: who am I passionate about? What does my heart take? Is this life taken with foresight? And not a prisoner of the little things, of the little things. What am I spending on? We are not created to make a career, but to grow in communion with the Creator and with creatures. To make it grow.
And here it must be reiterated that we are passionate when we take care of our own interiority, if we do not neglect spirituality, if we study, if we know the social doctrine of the Church in depth and strive to translate it into concrete situations. Don't be afraid to lend yourselves even for free to raise the life of those who are discarded. Go to the suburbs to find the discarded. The opposite of passion, what is it? Sloth? Mediocrity or superficiality, which leads us to think that we already know everything from the start and not to seek solutions to problems by putting ourselves on the line. As Don Milani reminds us: "We will not see saints blossom until we have built young people who vibrate with pain and faith while thinking of social injustice!" And I ask you the question: do you vibrate with pain and faith in the face of so many social injustices, exploitation, lack of work, the waste of the elderly? To become passionate is to vibrate for it.
The fourth and last verb is to accompany . The Policoro Project is a network of human and ecclesial relationships: many people commit themselves to accompany you, your dioceses look at you with hope, and each of you is capable of becoming a companion on the road to all the young people he meets on his path. Your presence in the territories thus becomes the sign of a Church that knows how to take you by the hand. And this is Christ's style towards the disciples of Emmaus ( cf.Lk24: 13-35), who showed themselves resigned, discouraged, closed, for what had happened in Jerusalem. Jesus allows their disappointment to be expressed, but he also helps them to reread everything starting from Easter. Thus the bishop Tonino Bello meditated: «It is necessary to travel to Jerusalem - Jericho. It is the axis on which faith intersects history, and hope crosses despair, and charity encounters the fruits of violence " . Faith tells us that the crisis can be a passage of growth. You know that from a crisis we will never come out the same. It comes out either better or worse, never the same. The Spirit of the risen Christ animates the hope to get out of it, which becomes a help for people to get up, get back on the road, go back to dreaming and commit themselves to life, to the family, to the Church and to society. And indeed, remember that you cannot get out of a crisis alone. Either we go out together or we can't go out. We will remain in the labyrinth of the crisis.
Dear young people, at the school of the Church's social teaching, you are already signs of hope. May your presence in the dioceses help everyone to understand that evangelization also passes through the care of work. May the 25 years of the Policoro Project be a restart . I encourage you to "dream together" (Encyclical letter Fratelli tutti , 8) for the good of the Church in Italy. And I encourage you to make noise. Young people have to make a noise. I accompany you with my prayer. I invoke the blessing of the Lord on your families and communities. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you!
 The waiting of the poor people , LEF, Florence 1978, 20.
2] Pastoral experiences, LEF, Florence 1957, 241.
 Charity with the bowels of mercy , EMP, Padua 2009, 32.