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Friday, June 2, 2017

Pope Francis speaks with children about suffering and growing up

At noon today, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience a group of children from lower middle school who are participating in a Christian education experience called Graal or The Knights.




Question and Answer period hosted by Pope Francis
in company with children from lower middle school

Question asked by Martha
Dear Pope Francis, my name is Marta.  At this time, I am very disturbed by the fact that, since I am in the third form, next year I will not see most of my best friends and I am afraid of the passage from middle school to high school.  I am happy now, with how things are, with my friends right now.  Why must everything change?  Why am I so afraid to grow?  I cannot and I do not want to imagine my life and everything that will happen to me without these friends who I love.  How can I do this?  How will I be able to do this?

Pope Francis
Thank you Marta.  I will tell you this.  Life is a continual hello and goodbye.  Many times, these are little things, but sometimes there is a goodbye that lasts for a year, or even forever.  We grow through our meetings and our partings.  If you never learn how to leave well, you will never learn how to meet new people.  What you are saying here, is a challenge, it is a life-long challenge.  It is true, your friends will not be the same - perhaps you will see them, you may speak with them ... but there are new people that you should also meet, and that is the challenge.  In life, we must get used to this journey: leaving something and meeting other new things.  This is also a risk.  There are people who are so afraid - you used that word: I'm afraid - to take a step, people who remain constantly closed, too quiet and never growing.  When a boy, a girl, a man, a woman says enough and - like the priest said - if he or she is happy to sit on a couch, he or she will never grow.  Life's horizons become more and more closed in.  Here, I use another word ... Can you see, look at the wall: what is behind the wall?  What, you can't see what is behind the wall?  Tell me, tell me ... go to the microphone ...

Marta
I don't know ...

Pope Francis
You don't know ... It's the same when someone does not want to open up: there is a wall placed in front of that person, he or she has no idea what is behind it.  But if you go outside, into the countryside - think about it - what would you see?  Where there are no walls, what would you see?

Marta
I see everything ...

Pope Francis
Everything.  You see the horizons.  We have to learn how to look at life by looking at the horizons, always more, always more, always keep moving forward.  And this is what it means to meet new people, to meet new situations.  Do not forget about other people, no!  There is always a good memory and usually when we meet old friends, we greet one another ... but we must always continue journeying, in order to keep growing.  It is true that you used the word fear: I am afraid of growing, I am afraid of going forward ... try using the words: I have a challenge: can I overcome challenges or do I let challenges overwhelm me?  Do you understand?  Look at the wall and think: how is it with my fiends, my horizons?  This is the choice that you have to make.  Behind the wall you cannot see anything; with your horizons, you will keep advancing, the more horizons you face, the more you will advance: there will always be more horizons!  And we have to grow toward other horizons.  I don't know if I've explained myself.  I said a word: remember your friends first, all those who you need to leave behind in order to go on along another path.  Remember them, call them sometimes, meet with them ... but live with new friends and continue the path of your life with new friends.  This is how you will grow.  But you were good! You haven't yet told me what was behind the wall, and that is something very good, because behind the wall, you cannot see and yet you managed to tell me that when you are with your friends and you look toward the horizons, you see everything.  Good for you!  Keep up the good work!

Marta
Thank you.

Giulia
Dear Pope Francis, my name is Giulia and I want to ask you what concrete thing can we do, we young children, to change the world around us a little bit, even with everything that is going on ...

Pope Francis
We can think of calling a fairy that comes with a magic wand and changes the world. Can this be done? How does the world change? Is it possible to change the world? All of you answer, is it possible?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
Is it easy to change the world?

Children
No!

Pope Francis
Is it difficult to change the world?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
If it is difficult for grown-up people, for people who have studied, for people who have the capacity to govern the countries, it must be even harder for a boy or a girl, mustn’t it? It’s difficult. But I would like to ask you, all of you, a question: you, can you change the world?

Children
Yes…

Pope Francis
You’re not very sure, are you? Can you or can you not?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
Good, that’s better. But how? With the things that are around you. For example, always, when I meet children – you are a little bigger, but children – I ask this question: if you have two candies, and a friend comes along, what do you do? Almost everyone says, I’ll give one to him and keep one for me. Some do not say it, but they think, I’ll keep them both in my pocket and eat them afterwards when he goes away. The first is a positive attitude: one for you, one for me. The other is an egoistic, negative attitude: everything for me. Look at your hands. Everyone, look at your hands and make this gesture. Positive gesture: how is your hand? Let’s all do it together: take it, yes … let’s share . Negative attitude: how is your hand? Closed. Let’s do the gesture. To change the world, do you want your hand closed?

Children
No!

Pope Francis
What does it take? Let me see… There! Yes, it takes an open hand. But the hand is a symbol for the heart, we cannot do this with the heart here, it would be difficult … But it is a symbol of the heart: open heart . You can begin to change the world with an open heart. Now for the other question I always ask children. And if you have just one candy, and a friend comes along, what do you do? It’s not easy. Most answer, Half and half! And this is like this or like that (gestures) half and half. And some say, I put it in my pocket and eat it by myself. This, how is it? Like this or like that? (gestures) Let’s see… The world is changed by opening the heart, listening to others, accepting others, sharing things. And you can do the same. If you have a companion, a friend, a schoolmate, a schoolmate you don’t like, who isn’t very nice … If you go to others to gossip about that person, how is this, like this or like that? (gestures). Good. Instead, if you let it pass – But, I don’t like it, I won’t say anything – how is that? Good. You have understood. Changing the world with little everyday things, with generosity, with sharing, creating these attitudes of brotherhood. If someone insults me and I insult him, how is this? Instead, if someone insults me and I do not answer, how is that? Have you understood? Never repay evil with evil! (Applause from the children). Never. Do you hurt me? And what did Jesus teach us about this? Listen: pray for everyone; pray for your friends and pray also for your enemies, for those who make you suffer. And Jesus says: like the Father Who is in heaven … (Who) makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good. Yes: pray for everyone. Pray for everyone, and do not wish bad things on others. In this way we can change the world. There is no magic wand, but there are little everyday things that we must learn. And I will make you a proposal. In a group, for about half an hour, speak about this. Little groups, when you are all together. If they do this to me, what must I do? If I am faced with this choice, what must I do? Speaking about things which are like this and things which are like that (gestures), with the heart. Thank you for your question.

Tanio
Dear Pope Francis, my name is Tanio, I was born in Bulgaria and in the first month of my life my parents left me in an orphanage. At the age of five I was adopted by a new Italian family. After a year, however, my mother died. I have lived so far with my father and my grandparents. This year my grandparents died too. The Knights are a gift, a great gift, for me: because they are close to me and support me in every moment of my life. However, this question comes to me: how can you believe that the Lord loves you, when He makes you lose people or makes things happen that you would never want?

Pope Francis
How can you believe that the Lord loves you, when He makes you lose people or makes things happen that you would never want? Let us think a bit, all together, with our imagination, of any hospital with children. How can we think that God loves children and lets them get sick, lets them die, very often? Think of this question: why do children suffer? Why are there children in the world who suffer from hunger, while in other parts of the world there is great waste? Why? You know, there are questions – like the one that you have asked – that we cannot answer with words. Tanio, you have asked this question and there are no words to explain. Only, you will find some explanation – not why, but para que ('for what purpose') – in the love of those who care for you and support you. There is no explanation for why these things happen, but there are people who accompany you. I say to you sincerely, and you will understand this well: when I, myself, ask in prayer, why do children suffer?, I usually do so when I go to children’s hospitals and I leave – I tell you the truth – with my heart not destroyed, but very pained, the Lord does not answer me. I look only to the Crucified Jesus. If God let His only Son suffer so for us, there must be something that has a meaning. But, dear Tanio, I cannot explain that meaning to you. You will find it yourself: further along in life, or in the next life. But explanations, like how we explain a mathematical theorem or an historical question, I cannot give you, nor can anyone else. There are, in life – you understand this well! – there are in life questions and situations that cannot be explained. One of those is what you have experienced, your suffering. But behind this, there is always God’s love. Ah, how do you explain it? It cannot be explained. I cannot explain it. And if someone says, Come, come, I will explain it to you!, be somewhat doubtful. Only those who support you, who accompany you and help you grow, will make you feel God’s love. Thank you for asking this question, because it is important that you, boys and girls, at this age, begin to understand these things, because this will help you to grow well and to go ahead. Thank you, Tanio. And taking a little of the pain of the last question, let us turn to our Mother, our Mother in heaven, to the Mother: She understands pain, like all mothers, and let us pray the consecration together.

Prayer of consecration
Jesus, my Lord and King…

(Blessing)

And before finishing, to be able to go ahead in life and to have a generous heart, how must our heart be? With the hand…

Children
Open!

Pope Francis
To go backwards … to go backwards: how do you go backwards? With the heart, how?

Children
Closed!

Pope Francis
Closed. And the other question: can all situations in life be explained?

Children
No!

Pope Francis
I haven’t understood, I can’t hear…

Children, more loudly
No!

Pope Francis
Good. Let’s keep going!

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