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Dear Papa , I ask you

· Ten young women from different parts of the non-Catholic world interrogate Bergoglio ·

What do ten young women living in ten different countries have in common? To start with they are all daughters of the same era, all aged between twenty and thirty years old. If cultural relativism has created a gap in society also in geographically close areas, on the other hand the new generations around the globe are linked by common lifestyles, new technologies and a neo-scientific worldview that rejects any a priori possibility of transcendence, so that - to paraphrase Pope Francis - one could speak of globalization of immanence.

Yet the ten women we interviewed did not all belong to the category of rational non-believers. Some are agnostic, where agnosticism is today the secular faith that transversely informs globalized youth culture (uncertainty of the future, refusal to take responsibility for definitive decisions, a fascination for the uncertain), hidden under the guise of a supposed greater freedom: the ability to be able to rewrite their own thoughts without succumbing to the heaviness of irrevocable decisions, charged with those traditional confessions that up until now were presumed to be unfit to interpret existential needs. However one can glimpse through the profiles of the ten young women and notice anxieties for something that lies beyond, but that they do not know how to explain, and that is perhaps the real common denominator of this generation. The queries that the ten women pose to the Pope have nothing to do with the very serious and fundamental theological and doctrinal dilemmas that make up the central plot of religious matters, nor do they have anything to do with curiosity about the habits and the personal tastes of the Pope. They are on the other hand questions that go straight to the heart of issues important to ordinary people.

China

Ying was born in a small Chinese village in Hebei province 150 kilometres from Beijing. She is 27 years old. Her father is a bricklayer, a classical internal migrant who moves continuously from one side of the country to the other in search of work. Her mother works on the family farm. Ying works in Beijing working as an interpreter for a Latvian company. "I am a very practical Chinese woman, and I think the world should work according to clear rules. Having a religion is to enter into a special existential journey, where people are no longer operating simply on the basis of rationality and reason, and that is why it is not for me. But I think that there is, however, something beyond our comprehension. If I were to ask a question to the Pope I think it would be this: what does it mean to have a spiritual power, compared for example to the power of our political leaders?

Estonia

Kaisa, who lives in Tallinn, is 24 years old and studying at the Estonian Information Technology College. “Estonia is a small country but it is very creative and innovative, especially from a technological point of view. Another characteristic is that it is amongst the least religious countries in the world. I am happy without religion, however that does not mean that God does not exist, it only means that man-made religious rules are not for me. Obviously there are divine things in life, in fact I think that all living creatures possess divine qualities, but that they do not need a religion to be as such. My question to the Pope is this: Would you be ready to assume responsibility for all the children who would be born if there were no more use of condoms or birth control? Does The Church hope to perhaps create an army of millions of poor and abandoned children and then raise them to become missionaries?”

Indonesia

Ayana was born in 1990, she is an Indonesian of a Muslim family. "I'm not religious, but all living beings are part of the universe, therefore I believe in a kind of positive life energy that shapes the life of any living being. My question is: why, if he exists, did God create us? Many scientists believe that humanity is destined to disappear (asteroids, famine, war), and that there will be only cockroaches and some colonies of mice left. Given that this is so, what sense would it make if one day there is no longer a trace of the human race on the earth? What would be the sense of such a short-lived apparition? Cockroaches are evolutionarily immortal, so do they have more dignity than that of man?”.

South Korea

Yuja lives in Busan; she is 22 years old and is studying medicine. “The Koreans are a people who are made up almost one third by Christians, so that in large cities, there are high bell towers which are now an integral part of the skyline. I myself studied in a Christian school, but I personally think the idea of having a merciful God who can justify all our sins with the excuse of repentance is too convenient. I had a pastor teacher who every week asked for donations for Filipino orphans: it was later discovered that he used that money to go with prostitutes. That pastor now continues to teach and is probably at peace with his conscience, because God certainly has forgiven his sins. I think that all life in the universe has the exact same dignity, so I do not think that there are special places for people like a heaven and a hell, and nothing for other living beings, almost as if there are animals of a first and second grade. I believe in fact that man is a kind of insect, without purpose, the product of more or less mysterious chemical reactions. My question is: Would a God such as the Christian one, who is similar to humans, not, rather than humility express the arrogance, the hubris of man? And if God is that omnipotent being as it is said, then should it not be something beyond even our own imagination, to the point that it would be impossible to think about it under any form , much less that of a human being?”.

France

Nadége . "I was born in France of a non-believer Jewish father and a Catholic agnostic mother. After the death of my grandfather, at the age of eight, I began to reflect on the question of evil, pain and of nothingness. I chose to enroll myself in a religious school, and I began to have a modest experience of faith. Ten years after I was baptized. Despite this, however, I could not answer the questions that I mentioned. I chose a course of study that included biology, mathematics and neuroscience, but even that did not give me any useful response. So I then started a course of medical study, and began to work as a neurologist. Now I am 31 years old and working as a psychologist for children and adolescents in a Paris hospital. Every day, in my work, I experience the way in which what I call the soul is conditioned by the context in which we live but also the links with the previous generations. Still though, I cannot draw from this fact a notion of God. I came to the conclusion that this concept is not necessary. What do you think is the ultimate meaning of human life? As a believer, how do you explain the fact that only women can procreate?”.

United States of America

"My name is Chelsea, I'm 25 and I grew up alone with my mother. I work as a waitress in a restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. I have a degree in anthropology and gender studies. Currently I am studying as an interpreter of sign language. I consider myself to be a spiritual person who does not subscribe to any particular religion. I do not think there is a divinity that governs humanity. I do in fact think that everything that exists in the universe coincides with what Christians call God But I do not believe in the existence of an entity that transcends the universe and matter as we know it. My question is: there are many Christians and even Catholics who justify their prejudices against people with different sexual orientation from themselves on the basis of the Scriptures. It might be said that they are in good faith. Would you consider this to be a legitimate attitude? Another question: I'd like to know if, within a few years, all the countries of the world were to approve the marriage between same-sex couples except, for example, Italy, would that exception still be the rule?”.

Japan

"My name is Shiho , I'm 21 years old and I am completing my third year of university in international politics. I grew up in Tokyo and my parents sent me to a private Christian school, so I have a relatively good knowledge of the teachings of Christianity. Despite this, however, I chose to be an atheist because I think it is an existential choice that allows me to cultivate friendships, or social relations in general, without running the risk of triggering ideological conflicts with people. I find it very difficult to take up any kind of relationship with people who have a strong religious sense, because of often unpleasant disagreements. The Japanese are an essentially atheist people but at the same time they are one of the most peaceful societies and most obedient to the rules of common life which exist: then what would be the advantage of believing in a God? Do you think that religions can indeed coexist peacefully? If yes, in what way could this be achieved? Do not think that not believing in any religion might actually be a more effective way of creating an atmosphere of harmony and peace among peoples, with respect to the continuous religious preaching which is often the cause (voluntary or involuntary) of precisely those conflicts against which such preaching is fighting?”.

Italy

"My name is Vivian, I am thirty years old, and I am from Rome, but I live in Sydney where I work as a babysitter. I have a degree in child psychology, and I'm lucky enough to have worked with children for several years now. I feel strongly about those children, the less fortunate who live in areas of the world where war and famine deprive them even of enough food to survive. I have done volunteer work in Africa and I often wonder if in time of war a Pope could ever, in the name of the greater good, take the extreme action to taking himself and all that he symbolically represents to the actual or potential battlefields thus avoiding, with high probability, any outbreak of armed conflict. No one would ever dare to start a war if on the enemy front there appeared the solemn figure of the Pope in the flesh. After all Christ did something very similar, with his sacrifice he made himself a shield saving all men from their sins. I'm not saying that this should happen on all occasions where there are conflicts, but to make a similar gesture to stop the conflicts that nobody talks about, in fact, would it seem such a foolish act to consider?”.

Russia

"My name is Irina, I was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia's capital. My family has always made sure that I received a good education, and after my studies I majored in international relations and I moved to Madrid where I obtained a master's degree in international cooperation and humanitarian aid. Now I live in Barcelona, where I have started my own company. I'm not married and I have no children. I've never been a religious person, nor even atheist: I would say agnostic. I think there is a kind of universal law that regulates everything, and I also believe in the existence of a kind of energy (a conscious energy?) which in turn predetermines this universal law. My questions are: what do you think are the three most important factors that define the role of the Church in modern society? Given that today's social inequalities have increased more than ever before, in your opinion has there ever existed in the past (and if so, which), political systems that have ensured a better social equality and a more equitable distribution of resources? Today, is there in your opinion a country whose social-political system deserves to be considered a role model?”.

Iran

"My name is Maryam, I am thirty years old, I live in Germany but I was born in Iran. Even today, I keep both nationalities. I have a degree in engineering and I'm studying to get a PhD in biotechnology. I grew up with two atheist parents. After reflecting at length on the subject, I can say that atheism is the right choice. My question is this: looking at the Ten Commandments, I wonder whether it is really necessary to have a religion that tells us things that are pretty obvious, such as not to kill or steal. And even if religion were necessary, do we need a Church, that is an institution that spends a lot of resources for its own self-management, resources that often come from the contribution of pensioners, from people with menial jobs with meagre wages and who believe that their money is really used for good purposes? I’ve happened to meet many religious people who have taken a vow of poverty, but who have owned an iPad or an expensive iPhone model, not only when there are tools with the same functions at a much lower cost, but also when the Gospel is essentially a message that says blessed are the poor and woe to you who are rich."

Cristian Martini Grimaldi

PRINTED EDITION

 

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