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Charity is fundamental to politics, Pope Francis tells youth

Scholas Occurrentes Pope Francis meets with Scholas Ocurrentes in 2016./ CNA

Charity is a necessary part of politics, Pope Francis told youth from around the world on Thursday.

“Politics are the highest form of charity. Love is a political matter. Love is for everybody, and when love is not universal, politics fail in their intent,” Pope Francis said, through a Vatican News language interpreter, on Thursday.

The pope attended an event with youth and staff from global chapters of the pontifical foundation Scholas Occurrentes on Thursday in Rome. He spoke to youth and teachers in-person, as well as Scholas chapters in the United States, Spain, and Australia through a live videoconference.

Pope Francis was asked by an audience member how young people who are pessimistic about corruption in politics could work for change.

“When people ask me what the political situation is like around the world, I always tell them, try and find where the various wars are taking place around the world, and you will see where politics is failing,” Pope Francis continued. “Harmony has been lost, the ability to discuss has been lost.”

Public officials must “be long-sighted,” he emphasized, and should seek “harmony” rather than self-interest.

“In order to understand whether politics is working, you are to ask yourself, ‘am I supporting wars? Am I selling weapons? Am I selling guns?’ And if the answer is ‘yes,’ then we will know where the truth lies,” he said through an interpreter.

Pope Francis addressed youth in Valencia, Spain; Chaco, Argentina; Sydney, Australia; and Washington, D.C. via a live teleconference, including new Scholas Occurrentes communities in Sydney and Washington, D.C.

Scholas Occurrentes is a Pontifical Foundation established in 2015, charged with supporting poor and underserved communities around the world through education.

The pope also visited the Vatican offices of Scholas Occurrentes in Trastevere, meeting with young Italians who participated in a government-supported program on emotional health issues during the pandemic.

“Thank you for taking risks,” Pope Francis told attendees at the end of Thursday’s event. “The Scholas project cannot be understood without taking risks.”

“Without risks, there can be no celebrations. So, don’t be afraid. Don’t stay quiet,” he said.

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington also gathered with Cardinal Wilton Gregory on Thursday to watch the event and send a video message to Pope Francis. They gathered at Archbishop Carroll High School in the city’s northeast, to celebrate the launch of a new Scholas Occurrentes chapter in Washington.

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The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference also shared a message with Pope Francis on Thursday.

“Scholas is an extraordinary instrument for helping young people to coexist and to help people implement God’s plan for the world. Now Holy Father, we always follow your work, and we always pray for you,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles told Pope Francis, according to a Vatican News language interpreter.

“Hopefully we will be able to help people from all around the United States, and hopefully we will be able to help them during these difficult times, but also in the future,” Gomez said.

A crowd of young people at Valencia’s Levante Stadium greeted the pope in the videoconference; in attendance at the stadium was Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, archbishop of Valencia.

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In response to a question from the gathering about the importance of minding one’s “origins,” Pope Francis responded, “We must always keep in mind who we are, we must never forget where we come from.”

“A person who forgets where they come from is a person who does not know who they are,” he said, adding that “sometimes we forget that we must stay humble and if we’re not humble, then we will lose the game of life. So being humble is fundamental.”

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