“But with God’s help and with the sincere will to do good, every obstacle can be overcome,” he told international students and those who minister to them.
Students studying abroad and about 100 campus ministers and representatives of bishops’ conferences participated in the Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students from November 28 to December 2. The congress was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.
Pope Francis said it was important that new generations always be inspired and guided to build a “healthier society,” especially when it comes to dealing with moral dilemmas.
Today, “the moral challenges to be addressed are many and it is not always easy to fight for affirming the truth and values, especially when one is young,” he said, but it can be done with God’s help and honest intentions.
He said he was pleased to see so many young students attending the congress because it showed that “challenges do not make you afraid, rather they drive you to work to build a more humane world. Never stop and don’t get discouraged because Christ’s Spirit will guide you if you listen to his voice.”
Pursuing higher studies, especially abroad in a new social and cultural context, helps students and the communities that host them to broaden their horizons, become more tolerant and welcoming, build trust and spark a desire to work for the common good, he said.
The pope told educators and pastoral workers to help deepen foreign students’ love for the Gospel and their desire to live it out concretely and share it with others.
By teaching how to think critically and to grow in Christian values, one forms young people who are “thirsty for truth and not power, ready to defend values and live mercy and charity — fundamental foundations for a healthier society.”
While the pope praised the benefits of getting an education abroad, he lamented “brain drain” — that is, the “painful” lack of social or employment opportunities in poorer countries, which pushes bright students to “abandon their own nation.”