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Pope speaks with youth about inner peace, troubled culture

Catholic World News - April 04, 2014

In an unscripted interview with young people from Belgium, Pope Francis said that “the poor are at the center of Jesus’ Gospel.”

Responding to a question about his concern for the poor, the Pope said:

A couple of months ago, I heard someone say: this Pope must be a communist he speaks about the poor so much! No, they are a symbol of the Gospel, poverty without ideology.

The Pope agreed to an interview with young Belgians at the request of Belgian Church Youth Ministry and Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent. The question-and-answer session, which took place in the apostolic palace on March 31, was originally scheduled to take 20 minutes, but the Pope opted to stay for more than twice that length of time.

Asked whether he is happy, the Pope replied strongly in the affirmative. He said that “it’s a tranquil happiness because at this age one no longer has the same happiness of a young person; there’s a difference. There’s a certain interior peace.”

When he was asked whether there is anything that frightens him, the Pope replied, laughing, “myself!” Then he added that in the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly tells his followers not to be afraid. He told the young questioner that “fear is not a good adviser, because it gives you bad advice.” He went on to say distinguish between “bad fear and good fear,” saying good fear warns of real dangers but that bad fear must be rejected. Pope Francis said that he had learned a great deal in life from his own mistakes. “They say man is the only animal that falls in the same well twice,” he remarked. “In my life I have learned—and I still do—that mistakes are the best teachers.”

The Pontiff strongly denounced the “culture of disposability” of the contemporary world, and urged the young people to reject it. Too often, he said, “man is pushed out of the center. He has been pushed to the periphery. In the center, money and power rule.” Citing evidence of a troubled culture, he said:

Young people no longer want children. Families are becoming smaller, families don't want children. The elderly are pushed aside. Many elderly die because of a sort of hidden euthanasia, because no one cares for them and they die. And now the young are chased out.

When he was asked whether he had a question for the young Belgians, the Pope responded: “Where is your treasure?... Because your life will be where your treasure is kept.”

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