Pope tells students in Lisbon there is no future in a world without God
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
“There is no future in a world without God,” Pope Francis warned university students in Portugal while appealing that they make their faith credible through their choices.
The Holy Father’s admonition came during his meeting with the students on the premises of the Universidade Catòlica Portuguesa, on the second day of his Apostolic Journey to Portugal for the occasion of the 37th World Youth Day.
The Pope also encouraged them to embrace their faith and take risks to change the world, promoting human fraternity on all levels.
At the encounter, the Holy Father listened to the testimonies of refugee students, welcomed by the University, and of students involved in the implementation of the Pope’s 2015 encyclical on the environment Laudato si', in the Global Compact on Education, and in the Economy of Francesco initiative.
Make faith credible through choices
“An authentic integral ecology,” the Pope said in his remarks, “is not possible without God,” “there can be no future in a world without God,” and he invited them to give credibility to their faith through the choices they make in life.
“For unless faith gives rise to convincing lifestyles,” the Pope said, it will not be a “leaven” in the world. It is not enough for us Christians to be convinced he explained, saying “We must also be convincing.”
Our actions, the Holy Father exhorted, are called to reflect, joyfully and radically, the beauty of the Gospel.
Furthermore, he stressed, "Christianity cannot be lived as a fortress surrounded by high walls, one that raises the ramparts against the world.”
He thanked a student, Beatriz, for her moving testimony, in which she said it is precisely “within the field of culture” that she feels called to live the Beatitudes.
Be amazed by the Beauty of Christ
In every age, the Pope recalled, one of the most important tasks for Christians is to recover the meaning of incarnation.
Without the incarnation, he warned, Christianity becomes ideology.
In this regard, Pope Francis said it is significant that they named their new academic chair, dedicated to the “Economy of Francesco,” after Saint Clare.
Recalling the Saint, the Pope elaborated on how “the contribution of women is indeed essential.”
"In the Bible, we see how the economy of the family is entrusted largely to women. They are the real heads of the household, possessed of a wisdom aimed not merely at profit, but also at care, coexistence, and the physical and spiritual wellbeing of all, including the poor and the stranger," he said.
Experience the ‘Global Compact on Education’
The Pope went on to recall that the Global Compact on Education, with its seven overarching principles, encompasses many key issues, to which he urged the students to dedicate their attention, from caring for our common home to the full participation of women and the need for innovative ways of understanding economics, politics, growth and progress.
“I encourage you to study the Global Compact and to become enthusiastic about its contents,” he said.
Recalling that one of its points addresses the need to educate about acceptance and inclusion, the Pope underscored: “We cannot pretend that we have not heard the words of Jesus in Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’
Dramatic urgency of protecting environment
Pope Francis appealed to the young people to protect the environment.
"Do not forget," the Pope admonished, "happy mediums are only a small delay in the disaster. Instead, it is a matter of taking on what unfortunately continues to be postponed: the need to redefine what we call progress and evolution."
"Because, in the name of progress, there has been too much regression. Study well what I am telling you: in the name of progress, too much regress has been made," he said.
Third World War in pieces
The Holy Father, who had met with Ukrainian young pilgrims prior to the encounter, also pointed to the wars plaguing the world.
"But, he said, "we embrace the risk of thinking that we are not in agony, but in childbirth; not at the end, but at the beginning of a great spectacle," he said. "It takes courage to think this."
Pope Francis urged the university students to not be paralyzed by fear, and to, rather, transform their fears into dreams.