Full text of Pope Francis' powerful, unscripted talk with Kenya's youth

Pope Francis arrives to meet with youth at Kasarani stadium in Kenya on Nov. 27, 2015. Credit: Martha Caldarón/CNA.
Pope Francis arrives to meet with youth at Kasarani stadium in Kenya on Nov. 27, 2015. Credit: Martha Caldarón/CNA.

.- An impassioned Pope Francis went off-the-cuff in a vast, widespread speech to Kenyan youth, touching on challenging topics such as how to stop youth from being recruited to terrorist activities.

The encounter fell on the Pope’s last day in Kenya. His Nov. 25-27 visit to the country was part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic later this week.

Before meeting the youth, Francis traveled to Nairobi’s slum-neighborhood of Kangemi, where he praised those he met for their strong emphasis on community and relationships and condemned what he called a vacuous, “unbridled consumption” that often plagues the West.

In his speech to youth, the Pope responded in Spanish to questions posed by youths Lineth and Manuel, who gave their testimonies on current challenges they face, including issues stemming from corruption, tribalism, and the radicalization of youth who are recruited into terrorist activities.

Francis in response delivered lengthy, powerful answers with his own anecdotes, revealing that he carries a rosary and a pocket-sized Stations of the Cross with him every day, which he said keep him from losing hope.

Below please find CNA’s full transcript of the Pope’s speech in Spanish, assisted by the simultaneous translation of Pope Francis’ official translator, Msgr. Mark Miles:

Thank you very much for the rosary you prayed for me. Thank you for your enthusiastic presence here. I have something to say on the basis of all the questions asked by Lineth and Manuel.

(In response to Lineth’s questions):

Why do divisions, wars and death occur? Fanaticism and divisions among young people? Why is there that desire to destroy?

In the first page of the Bible, after all those wonderful things that the Lord had done, a brother kills another brother. The spirit of evil takes us to destruction. And the spirit takes us to a lack of unity. It takes us to tribalism corruption and drugs. It takes us to destruction out of fanaticism. How do we make it such that fanatical idealism doesn’t rob us of a brother or sister. There is a word that might seem uncomfortable to the ear but i don’t want to avoid it.

A man or a woman loses their humanity when they forget how to pray. Because they feel powerful. Because they don’t feel the need to ask the Lord for help, in the face of so many tragedies.

Life is full of difficulties. Are there different ways of looking at difficulties? Does it stop you, or do you regard them as as real opportunity? To all of you is open the choice. For me, is this a path of destruction or an opportunity to overcome this difficulty for me, my family, this country?

Young people: we don’t live in heaven, we live on earth. And earth is full of difficulties and invitations that will lead you astray to evil. But there is something all of you have. The capacity to choose. Which path do you want to choose? Which of these two do I want?

There are some other difficulties you mention. And before that a question. Do you want to overcome challenges or be overcome by them?

Are you like the sportsman who come here (to the stadium). Or those who sold the tickets to others and put the money in their pockets. You have to choose.

Tribalism. It can destroy. It can mean having your hands hidden behind your backs. And have a stone in each hand to throw to others. Tribalism can only be overcome with your ear, your heart, and your hand.

(Ask yourselves): What is your culture? Why are you like this? Why do your cousins have these customs? Do they feel inferior or superior?

Once we’ve heard the response in our ears than it passes to our hearts and then I extend my hand. If you don’t dialogue with each other then you’re going to have division like a worm that grows in society

Yesterday was pronounced as a day of prayer and reconciliation. I want to invite you all today, to the young, to invite Lineth and Manuel to come up now, and that we hold each other’s hands, let’s hold hands together. Let’s stand up as a sign against tribalism. We are all a nation, that’s how our hearts must be.

Tribalism isn’t just raising our hands today, it’s an expression of our desire, our hearts, and this tribalism is a work we must carry out every day against this tendency. You have to listen to others, it’s a work of opening your heart.

(On the question of corruption): I ask myself, can we justify corruption? Just for the mere fact that everyone is corrupt? How can we be christians and overcome this evil of corruption? In my country a young 20 year old dedicated himself to politics. He studied with great vigor he went here and there and he obtained a job. And one day he had to decide: about which things he had to buy. And he asked for three quotes. He studied these three quotes and chose the cheapest, the easiest, and he took it to his boss so his boss could sign off on it and he said why do you choose this one? (He replied) because you have to choose what is easiest for the finances of a country. No (his boss replied) you have to choose that which gives more money in your pocket. But I came to carry out politics for the good of the nation (the young man said), and the boss replied: I do politics to rob, to steal.

One example and it’s not just in politics, in all areas of life, also in the Vatican. These are cases of corruption.

Corruption is something that eats inside, like sugar. Sweet, we like it, it’s easy. And then we end up in a bad way. So much sugar that we end up being diabetic or our country ends up being diabetic. Each time when we accept a bribe and we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts. we destroy our personalities, and we destroy our country. Please, don’t develop that taste for that sugar which is called corruption. You might say ‘but Holy Father, I see many who are corrupt. I see so many people who are sold. Just for a little bit of money. Without worrying about the livelihood of others.’

As in everything you have to make a start. If you don’t want corruption in lives, hearts and country, start now, yourselves. Because if you don’t start than the person that’s beside you won’t start.

Corruption moreover takes away our joy, our peace. Corrupt people don’t live in peace. What I’m about to tell you really happened. In my city, my home town, a man died and we all knew that he was corrupt. I asked a few days after, ‘how did the funeral go’? And a lady with a great sense of humor replied: ‘they couldn’t close the coffin properly because they wanted to put inside the coffin all the money he had robbed.’

What you rob through corruption will stay here. But also, what will remain is that the hearts of many men and women are wounded by these examples of corruption. What will remain behind was all the lack of good that could have been done. It will remain in the children who suffer.

Young people: corruption is not a path to life, it’s a path to death.

There was one question, how to use means of communication, to spread the message of Christ, and to promote good initiatives so that you can make a difference. The first means of communicating is the words, the smiles, the gestures. The first gesture is being close to others. The first gesture to trying look for friendship with others.

If you speak well among yourselves then you can accept each other as brothers and sisters, even if you’re from different tribes. If you’re closest to the poor to those who are abandoned to...those who are completely rejected, those gestures of communication are much more contagious than any channel on TV.

These questions and these thoughts can help you. But ask Jesus from your hearts, pray to the Lord. So that he can give you the strength to destroy tribalism and hold each others hand as brothers and sisters. So that you have the courage to not be corrupted, Offering yourselves for others, by offering a gestures, a word a smile your expressions of closeness.

(In response to Manuel’s questions):

I am worried about the first thing he said. What can we do to stop young people being recruited into radicalization? What can we do after they have been recruited to try to get them to come back? To answer this we have to ask why do young people full of ideals allow themselves to be radicalized in this way? They leave their friends, their tribe, their country. They leave their lives behind in order to learn how to kill. This is question which you yourselves must pose to all people in authority. If a young woman or man has no work, cannot study, what can he or she do? A life of delinquency, falling into drug abuse, or even into suicide. In Europe the statistics of suicide are not published. They get involved or seduced into an activity which leads them into a bad path. The first thing we have to do to stop a young person from being recruited is education and work.

If a young person has no work than what future awaits him or her? And that’s where the idea of being seduced or recruited comes in.

Even if there are small opportunities, without them what can they do? That is the danger. It’s a social danger which is beyond us and it’s even beyond the country because it depends on an international system that is unjust. It’s the injustice of having an economic system where the person is not the center but rather the god of money.

Pray! But (pray) really hard. God is much stronger than any recruitment campaign. And then, speak with tenderness, understanding and love and with great patience to invite them to come watch some football, to walk with you, to be together in your group, don't allow them to remain on their own.

Transitory things that end up destroying you. A question Manuel asked. It’s a question that a professor in theology might ask. How can we understand that God is our father, how to see his hand in the tragedies of life, how can we find God’s peace? This question men and women all over the world ask themselves. And they can’t find the reason. And there are some questions that you can turn around in your minds over and over again and never find the answer. How can I see the hand of God in tragedy? I was going to say there’s just one response but no, there’s no response. There is a path. To look at the Son of God. God endured death to save all of us. God became a tragedy. God allowed himself to be destroyed on the cross.

When you don’t understand something, when desperation hits you then look at the cross. That is the great failure of God, that is the destruction of God, and it’s a challenge to our faith. And this is hope, because history did not end in that failure. Rather it’s in the resurrection of Christ that renewed all of us.

I am going to tell you something personal. It’s 12 (o’clock) are you hungry? (Laughter and cheers).

I am going to tell you something private. In my pocket I always carry two thing: a rosary to pray something which seems odd, this is here is the history of God’s failure, it’s the way of the cross, a small way of the cross, as Jesus suffered and when they condemned him right up to where he was buried with these two things I do the best I can. And thanks to these two things, I never lose hope.

A last question from our theologian friend Manuel, what word can you offer to young people who don’t experience love in their families. How is it possible to come out of this experience?

Everywhere, there are abandoned children, either at birth or as life progressed they were abandoned and they don’t feel love from their families.

This is why family is so important. Defend the family. Defend the family always. everywhere there’s not only kids who are abandoned but also elderly are abandoned with no one to visit to them with no-one to love them,

How do you come out of this very negative experience? There is one remedy, one remedy alone, to come out of these experiences. To do that which you did not receive. If you didn’t receive understanding, then be understanding with others

If you felt pain of loneliness come close to those who are alone, flesh is cured by flesh and God became flesh in order to cure us, let’s do the same ourselves.

Well then, before the umpire sounds the bell, it’s time to close. I thank you from my heart, first that you came, second that you allow me to speak in my mother tongue. I am really grateful you prayed so many rosaries for me. And please, I ask you to pray for me. Because I too need those prayers and very much so. I count on your prayers and before leaving, if we stand now and pray to our heavenly father who has only one defect - he can’t stop being a father.

God bless you all, the father the son and the holy spirit - thank you very much.

Tags: Terrorism, Hope, Pope Francis, Corruption, Stations of the Cross, Radicalization, Pope Francis in Africa, Pope in Kenya

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