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Dignity for youth from employment

· Pope Francis talks to journalists on the flight to Rio about the repercussions of the world crisis on society's future ·

And on Twitter he joyfully greets the young people who have already arrived in Brazil to celebrate the World Youth Day

Going to meet the young, not isolated from their lives but within the social fabric of which they are part, because to make an attempt to isolate them is to commit an injustice. This is the reason why Pope Francis has gone to meet the hundreds and thousands of young men and women from across the world who were waiting for him in Rio de Janeiro yesterday for the 28th World Youth Day. Pope Francis said so himself at the customary meeting with the journalists accompanying him on his first visit outside Italy. It was customary even though this time the form Pope Francis chose for it differed from that of previous occasions: no press conference, no interviews, but a personal meeting with each one.

The Holy Father appeared smiling in the section of the aircraft reserved for the journalists a couple hours after take-off. The Pope's plane in fact departed Monday morning, 22 July, just before 9:00 a.m. from Rome's Fiumicino Airport. After a few words of introduction by Fr Lombardi the Pontiff once again caught off their guard those he was addressing. He spoke of his appointment with the young people – “I am arriving in Brazil in a few hours and my heart is already full of joy because soon I will be with you to celebrate the 28th WYD”, he had written a little earlier in a Tweet –  but he immediately wished to make it clear that he would also honour the elderly, the people with wisdom who are all too often set aside as if they no longer had anything to offer. The Bishop of Rome will therefore be among the young “who have strength”, and the elderly “who have wisdom”: wisdom of life, of history, of the homeland and of the family.

All these elements are of fundamental importance, especially in the light of the dramatic social crisis that is engulfing the whole world in this period, including Brazil, with the risk of fostering the birth of an “out-of-work” generation. “The world crisis does not do good things with young people”, the Pope declared, mentioning that he had read recent statistics showing the percentages of the unemployed which led him to foresee that it would not be easy for those who are unemployed today to find work in the future. The person's dignity, the Pope reaffirmed,  stems from work, from the possibility of “earning his bread”.  This was a favourable context for the Pope to relaunch his warning against the “culture of waste” which has for some time been targeting the elderly, he noted, but has now also begun to affect the young.  Thus it is urgent “to cut out” this “culture of waste” and to move on to that of “inclusion”, which will enable all to “be brought into society”.

What with journalists, cameramen and photographers,  more than 70 representatives of the media were on board. The Holy Father was greeted on behalf of them all by Valentina Alzaraki, the correspondent of Televisa ,  who is Mexican and is a veteran of papal journeys. With words somewhere between gravity and teasing, the journalist wished to reassure Pope Francis concerning the spirit in which they were accompanying him: he was not to feel as though he were in a lion's den. Media operators are not ferocious beasts but travelling companions. Then on behalf of all her colleagues, she gave the Pope an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Before returning to his place, the Pope talked to each one of those present, “in any case”, he said jokingly, “we have 10 hours ahead of us to kill”.

After his meetings with the journalists, the Pope reclaimed the microphone. Having asked them for their support to ensure the  media success of this journey, he responded most charmingly to Valentina's joke about the lions, confessing that, like the Prophet Daniel, he rather regretted that the lions had not proved to be so very fierce.

Lastly the tribute of the Alitalia crew deserves mention. The crew members gave Pope Francis a statue of Our Lady of Bonaria, which they had ordered especially for him from Sardinia.




St. Peter’s Square

March 21, 2018