Pope Francis to Youth "...I want to tell you: the Church is with you and she needs you so much, each one of you...face life's challenges by letting yourselves be guided by God's faithful..." FULL TEXT in Bahrain

on the occasion of the "Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence"
(3 - 6 NOVEMBER 2022)
Sacred Heart School in Awali
Saturday, November 5, 2022
Dear friends, brothers and sisters, good morning!
Thank you for being here, from so many different countries and with so much enthusiasm! I would like to thank Sister Rosalyn for the words of welcome she addressed to me and for the commitment with which she, along with many others, you carry out this School of the Sacred Heart.
And I am happy to have seen in the Kingdom of Bahrain a place of encounter and dialogue between different cultures and beliefs.

And now, looking at you, who are not of the same religion and are not afraid of being together, I think that without you this coexistence of differences would not be possible. And it would have no future! In the dough of the world, you are the good leaven destined to grow, to overcome so many social and cultural barriers and to promote sprouts of fraternity and novelty. It is you young people who, as restless travelers open to the unprecedented, are not afraid to confront each other, to dialogue, to "make noise" and mix with others, becoming the basis of a friendly and supportive society. And this, dear friends, is fundamental in the complex and plural contexts in which we live: to bring down certain fences to inaugurate a world that is more on a human scale, more fraternal, even if it means facing numerous challenges. On this, taking a cue from your testimonies and your questions, I would like to address three small invitations, not so much to teach you something, but to encourage you.
The first invitation: embrace the culture of care. Sister Rosalyn used this expression: "culture of care".

Taking care means developing an inner attitude of empathy, an attentive look that takes us out of ourselves, a gentle presence that overcomes indifference and pushes us to take an interest in others. This is the turning point, the beginning of the novelty, the antidote to a closed world which, impregnated with individualism, devours its children; against a world imprisoned by sadness, which generates indifference and loneliness. Allow me to tell you: how badly the spirit of sadness hurts, how badly! Because if we do not learn to take care of what is around us - of others, of the city, of society, of creation - we end up spending our lives as those who run, toil, do many things, but, in the end, remain sad and only because he has never fully enjoyed the joy of friendship and gratuitousness. And he didn't give the world that unique touch of beauty that only he, or she, and no one else could. As a Christian, I think of Jesus and I see that his actions have always been animated by care. He took care of relations with all those he met in homes, cities and along the way: he looked people in the eye, listened to their requests for help, came close and touched their wounds. . You, do you look people in the eye? Jesus entered history to tell us that the Most High takes care of us; to remind us that being on God's side means taking care of someone and something, especially those most in need.
Friends, how beautiful it is to become lovers of care, artists of relationships! But this requires, like everything in life, constant training. So don't forget to first of all take care of yourself: not so much of the outside, but of the inside, of the most hidden and precious part of you. Which? Your soul, your heart! And how do you cure the heart? Try to listen to it in silence, to carve out spaces to stay in contact with your interiority, to feel the gift that you are, to welcome your existence and not let it get out of hand. Do not happen to be "tourists of life", who only look at it from the outside, superficially. And in silence, following the rhythm of your heart, talk to God, tell him about yourself, and also about those you meet every day and that he gives you as travel companions. Bring them faces, happy and painful situations, because there is no prayer without relationships, just as there is no joy without love.
And love - you know it - is not a soap opera or a romantic film: to love is to have the other at heart, to take care of the other, to offer one's time and gifts to those in need, to take risks to make life a gift that generates further life. To risk! Friends, please, never forget one thing: you are all - without exception - a treasure, a unique and precious treasure. So, do not keep your life in a safe, thinking that it is better to save yourself and that the time to spend it has not yet come! Many of you are passing through here, for business reasons and often for a specific time. However, if we live with the mentality of the tourist, we miss the present moment and risk throwing away whole pieces of life! How nice, however, to leave a good trace on the journey now, taking care of the community, of classmates, of work colleagues, of creation ... It does us good to ask ourselves: what trace am I leaving now, here where I live, in the place where has Providence put me?
This is the first invitation, the culture of care; if we embrace it, we help to make the seed of fraternity grow. And here is the second invitation that I would like to address to you: sow fraternity. I liked what you said, Abdulla: “You have to be a champion not only on the playing field, but in life!”. Champions off the pitch. It's true, be champions of fraternity, off the pitch! This is today's challenge to win tomorrow, the challenge of our increasingly globalized and multicultural societies. You see, all the tools and technology that modernity offers us are not enough to make the world peaceful and fraternal. We are seeing it: the winds of war, in fact, do not subside with technical progress. We note with sadness that in many regions tensions and threats are increasing, and sometimes they flare up in conflicts. But this often happens because we do not work on the heart, because we allow distances towards others to dilate, and so ethnic, cultural, religious and other differences become problems and fears that isolate rather than opportunities to grow together. And when they seem stronger than the fraternity that binds us, there is a risk of clash.
To you young people, who are more direct and more capable in generating contacts and friendships, overcoming prejudices and ideological barriers, I would like to say: be sowers of fraternity and you will be gatherers of the future, because the world will have a future only in fraternity! It is an invitation that I find at the heart of my faith. «In fact - says the Bible - who does not love his brother whom he sees, cannot love God whom he does not see. And this is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother "(1 Jn 4: 20-21). Yes, Jesus asks us never to untie love for God from love for neighbor, making ourselves close to everyone (cf. Lk 10: 29-37). Everyone, not just those we like. Living as brothers and sisters is the universal vocation entrusted to every creature. And you young people - especially you -, faced with the dominant tendency of remaining indifferent and showing intolerance to others, even of endorsing wars and conflicts, are called to "react with a new dream of fraternity and social friendship that is not limited to words" (All Brothers, 6). Words are not enough: there is a need for concrete gestures carried out on a daily basis.
Let us ask ourselves some questions here too: Am I open to others? Am I a friend or a friend of someone who does not fit into my circle of interests, who has different beliefs and customs from me? Am I looking for the meeting or am I staying on mine? The path is the one that Nevin told us in a few words: “create good relationships”, with everyone. In you young people there is a strong desire to travel, to know new lands, to overcome the boundaries of the usual places. I would like to tell you: know how to travel also within yourself, widen your inner borders, so that prejudices about others fall, the space of distrust is restricted, the fences of fear are demolished, fraternal friendship may sprout! Here too, let yourselves be helped by prayer, which broadens the heart and, opening us to the encounter with God, helps us to see in whom we meet a brother and a sister. In this regard, the words of a prophet who says: “Didn't one God create us? So why act treacherously against each other? " (Ml 2.10). Societies like this, with a notable wealth of different beliefs, traditions and languages, can become "training grounds for fraternity". Here we are at the gates of the great and multiform continent of Asia, which a theologian has defined as "a continent of languages" (A. Pieris, in Teologia in Asia, Brescia 2006, 5): know how to harmonize them in the one language, the language of love , as true champions of fraternity!
I would like to make a third invitation to you again: it concerns the challenge of making choices in life. You know it well, from everyday experience: there is no life without challenges to face. And always, faced with a challenge, as at a crossroads, you have to choose, get involved, take risks, decide. But this requires a good strategy: you cannot improvise, living only by instinct or only instantly! And how do you prepare yourself, train your ability to choose, creativity, courage, tenacity? How to refine the inner gaze, learn to judge situations, to grasp the essential? It is a question of growing in the art of making choices, of taking the right directions. For this, the third invitation is to make choices in life, right choices.
All of this came to my mind when I thought about Merina's questions. These are questions that express precisely the need to understand the direction to take in life - she is courageous, for the way she said things! And I can tell you my experience: I was a teenager like you, like everyone else, and my life was the normal life of a boy. Adolescence - we know - is a journey, a phase of growth, a period in which we face life in its sometimes contradictory aspects, facing certain challenges for the first time. Well, what is my advice? Go forward without fear, and never alone! Two things: go on without fear and never alone. God does not leave you alone but, to give you a hand, he waits for you to ask him. He accompanies and guides us. Not with wonders and miracles, but by speaking delicately through our thoughts and feelings; and also through our professors, our friends, our parents, and all the people who want to help us.
We must then learn to distinguish his voice, the voice of God who speaks to us. And how do we learn this? As you told us, Merina: through silent prayer, intimate dialogue with him, keeping in the heart what is good for us and gives us peace. Peace is a sign of God's presence. This light of God illuminates the labyrinth of thoughts, emotions and feelings in which we often move. The Lord wishes to enlighten your intelligence, your innermost thoughts, the aspirations that you carry in your heart, the judgments that mature within you. He wants to help you distinguish what is essential from what is superfluous, what is good from what hurts you and others, what is right from what generates injustice and disorder. Nothing is foreign to God from what happens in us, nothing, but often it is we who estrange ourselves from him, who do not entrust people and situations to him, who close ourselves in fear and shame. No, let us nourish in prayer the consoling certainty that the Lord watches over us, that he does not fall asleep but looks at us and always guards us.
Friends, young people, the adventure of choices should not be carried out alone. So let me tell you one last thing: always look for good advisers in life, wise and reliable people who can guide you and help you before getting suggestions on the internet. This first. I think of parents and teachers, but also of the elderly, grandparents, and a good spiritual companion. Each of us needs to be accompanied on the path of life! I repeat what I told you: never alone! We need to be accompanied on the path of life.
Dear young people, we need you, your creativity, your dreams and your courage, your sympathy and your smiles, your contagious joy and also that pinch of madness that you know how to bring in every situation, and that helps. to get out of the torpor of habits and repetitive patterns in which we sometimes pigeonhole life. As Pope I want to tell you: the Church is with you and she needs you so much, each one of you, to rejuvenate, explore new paths, experiment with new languages, become more joyful and hospitable. Never lose the courage to dream and live big! Make the culture of care yours and spread it; become champions of fraternity; face life's challenges by letting yourselves be guided by God's faithful creativity and good counselors. And finally, remember me in your prayers. I will do the same for you, carrying you in my heart. Thank you!
God be with you! Allah ma'akum! [God be with you]