ROME—“Hanging out” with youth from around the world, Pope Francis on Friday spoke about the need for a “human” globalization, as opposed to an “elitist” education, and told young people that a life that isn’t shared with others belongs “in the museum.”
“We all have something to give, and we all have to open ourselves to receive from the other, and in this way, we globalize in a human way,” Francis said on Friday.
Every person, the pope said, has a meaning for their life, and the young people should focus on finding out what theirs is.
“In education, we make a wrong selection, an elitist one,” he said. “We create closed groups led by selfishness.”
This elitist isolation, Francis continued, makes the heart and the mind close in on themselves, “making us incapable of thinking with the other, of feeling with the other, of working with the other.”
The encounter was organized by Scholas Ocurrentes, a canonical foundation that began to take shape 20 years ago in Argentina, when Francis was still Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.
As is usually the case in these encounters, the gathering included a Google Hangout between the pope and young people from around the world. This time, they called in from nine countries: Italy, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Haiti.
Visibly in a good mood, Francis delivered many jokes, some of which were directed at the interpreters, who would have trouble translating words such as “ningunear.” It’s a word seldom used in Spanish, and in English it’d be something like “look down on someone.”
The Laudato Si’ pope actually began his short, off-the-cuff remarks with a joke, saying that society needs youth, “just like this room needs air conditioning!”
The room was the new Rome offices of Scholas Occurentes. The scope of the foundation is to integrate young people from different walks of life, promoting activities that lead to what Francis describes as a “culture of encounter.”
Those in the call have taken part in recent times in some of the activities promoted by Scholas. They talked about learning to share with peers of different races, religions and nationalities. This sharing they said, helped them work together for a better society, while fighting many things that affect school-aged children today, such as bullying.
Francis also spoke about “three languages,” that of the mind, the heart, and the hands.
“You take risks so you can think what you feel and do, feel what you think and do, and do what you think and feel,” the pope said. This, he continued, allows them to be coherent, instead of being “cut into pieces” by the world’s throwaway culture.
He also said that in many places, educational budgets are being cut, making education only available for those who can afford it.
“To educate is not to know things, but being capable of using the three languages, that of the hands, the heart and the mind,” he said. “Education is to include.”
After warning against elitist education, Francis spoke of another “danger,” which is that of globalization conceived as a “pool ball.”
In a sphere, he explained, each point is equidistant to the center, “everyone is equal,” so different personal characteristics are “annulled.”
“You either make yourself equal to the system, or you are not. You don’t exist,” Francis said. “The same thing happens with the peoples. Or they are all the same, or they don’t exist.”
Real globalization, the pope told the youth, is a “polyhedron,” an image he’s used before in these settings.
That, he said, is the Scholas challenge: To help each one of those who participate in their programs to find what is their “peculiarity, their wealth,” and to share it with others, “because I have a purpose.
“What do I have a purpose fore? To give. And in that giving, give ourselves openly, listening, dialoguing, but with no violence. Because there’s a violent way of giving. Think about bullying. No to bullying,” he said.
Lastly, the pope said that those present, including Italy’s minister of education and himself, are learning from the youth and their ability to communicate with each other in dialogue and discussion, accepting that the other thinks differently.
“In this way you grow and avoid being alienated by a society that all the time tends to be more elitist, excluding, and less participative,” he said.