Pope Francis meets students from Jesuit schools at an audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican June 7.
Today Pope Francis met with a large crowd of young people
from Jesuit schools during an audience at the Vatican. While the Holy Father
had prepared a speech to deliver to the students (that text can be read here),
he decided not to read it and instead engaged the students in a lively
From the Vatican Radio report
on the meeting:
students, who had come from six Italian cities and one school in Albania, were
passing the time singing a Christian rap song, when the Pope entered the hall unannounced.
At his sighting, they immediately erupted into cheers and applause.
In response, it
seems, Pope Francis decided to put his five-page written message aside.
“I prepared a text,
but it’s five pages! A little boring,” he said to the young people, who
responded with laughter.
He proposed to give
short summary and then take questions from the students instead.
and humour, the Pope answered 10 frank questions, that ranged from his priestly
vocation to his decision to forego the usual papal apartment.
When asked if it
was a difficult to leave his family and friends and become a priest, the pope
said it was. “It is not easy but there are beautiful moments and Jesus helps
you and gives you some joy.”
When asked why he
wanted to join the Jesuits, he said he wanted to be a missionary and he was
attracted by the religious order’s missionary zeal and activity.
When asked why he
decided to renounce the usual papal apartment, he said it was a question of
personality, not of luxury.
“I have a need to
live among people.” he said. “If I were to live alone, perhaps a little
isolate, it would not be good for me. … It is my personality. … It is not an
issue of personal virtue, it is only that I cannot live alone.”
He added that the
poverty in the world today is a scandal. “All of us today must think about how
we can become a little poorer,” he said, so as to resemble Jesus.
The Pope addressed
more serious concerns as well.
When a student
doubting his faith asked for words of encouragement, he likened the faith a
long walk. “To walk is an art,” he said, “To walk is the art of looking at the
horizon, thinking about where I want to go but also enduring the fatigue. And
many times, the walk is difficult, it is not easy… There is darkness… even days
of failure… one falls…
think this: do not be afraid of failure. Do not be afraid of falling. In the
art of walking, what is important is not avoiding the fall but not remaining
fallen," he said. "Get up quickly, continue on, and go. … But it is
also terrible to walk alone, terrible and boring. Walking in community with
friends, with those who love us, this helps us and helps us get to the end.”