Pope to African children: Be ambassadors of peace
By Lisa Zengarini
“Never give up on your dreams” and “be ambassadors of peace, so that the world can rediscover the beauty of love, of living together, of fraternity and solidarity”. Pope Francis made this invitation as he addressed on Monday a group of African children of several nationalities on the occasion of Africa Day.
The day marks the annual commemoration of the founding of the African Union (OAU) on 25 May 1963. That day, noted the Pope, “is a symbol of the struggle of the entire African continent for liberation, development, and economic and social progress, as well as for the strengthening and deepening of Africa’s cultural patrimony” and “you are the sign of this rich cultural diversity”.
He therefore reiterated the call he addressed in 2019 to all young people in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Christus vivit” “to dare to be ‘different’, to bear witness to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, courage, forgiveness, the struggle for justice and the common good, love for the poor, and social friendship”.
Don’t be discouraged by the “enormous challenges” in your countries
Pope Francis further urged the African children not to be discouraged by the “enormous challenges” and crises faced by the African continent today, including terrorism, bad governance, corruption, massive youth unemployment, migration, conflicts between communities and the climate and food crisis, and to continue pursuing their dreams for a better future. “One of Africa’s riches is the keen intelligence of its young people” he remarked, expressing his wish that their commitment to studies may “contribute to the human and integral development of society”.
Drawing attention to the scourge of children soldiers, he also called on those present to be close to their unfortunate peers who are victims of all kinds of conflicts in Africa “so that they do not feel rejected and stigmatized”.
Pope Francis then insisted again on the importance for young people to dialogue with their elders to build a better world: “Dialoguing with our roots, with our elders”, he said (…) allows us to move forward”.
Be ambassadors of peace in these times of great danger for humanity
Concluding, Pope Francis urged those present to be “ambassadors of peace” in these times of great danger for humanity by living peace around them and within them.