21 January 2021

Address of Pope Francis

Garden of Guanabara Palace, Rio de Janeiro

In his loving providence, God willed that the first international trip of my pontificate should take me back to my beloved Latin America, specifically to Brazil, a country proud of its links to the Apostolic See and of its deep sentiments of faith and friendship that have always kept it united in a special way to the Successor of Peter.  I am grateful for this divine benevolence. 

I have learned that, to gain access to the Brazilian people it is necessary to pass through its great heart; so let me knock gently at this door.  I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you.  I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ!  I have come in his name, to feed the flame of fraternal love that burns in every heart; and I wish my greeting to reach one and all: The peace of Christ be with you!

Here it is common for parents to say, 'Our children are the apple of our eyes'.  What a beautiful expression of Brazilian wisdom this is, applying to young people an image drawn from our eyes, which are the window through which light enters into us, granting us the miracle of sight!  What would become of us if we didn't look after our eyes?  How could we move forward?  I hope that during this week, each one of us will ask ourselves this thought-provoking question.
Listen!  Young people are the window through which the future enters the world.  They are the window, and so they present us with great challenges.  Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space.  This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be; to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living; to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good; to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone.  If we can do all this, we anticipate today the future that enters the world through the window of the young.

Pope Francis
July 2013