- Europe The Pope lands in Lisbon to participate in World Youth Day with one million young people
The pope on Thursday challenged university students to make the world a more just and inclusive place, as he focused the second day of his trip to Portugal on inspiring young people to use their privileges to combat climate change and economic inequalities.
Francis received a warm welcome at the Catholic University, one of the country's most important institutions of higher learning, where students sang papal chants under an already radiant sun on the campus located in downtown Lisbon.
After the event, Francis went to the coastal town of Cascais to visit the local headquarters of the Scolas Occurrentes foundation, a movement he founded years ago to bring together young people of different origins and nationalities.
The pope is in Lisbon for the weekend to attend World Youth Day, a massive Catholic event initiated by St. John Paul II in the 1980s to encourage young Catholics in their faith. Francis has gladly followed John Paul's legacy in his attempt to inspire the next generations to support his priorities on social, economic and environmental justice.
In his speech Thursday, the pontiff urged students to take risks and reject the temptation to only perpetuate the status quo — the "current global system of elitism and inequality" — with an attitude of self-protection.
"An (academic) degree should not be seen just as a license to accumulate personal wealth, but as a mandate to dedicate oneself to a more just and inclusive, i.e. more advanced, society," he said.
Francis asked young people to instead use the privilege of their education to work for the common good, especially in caring for the environment, the poor and the marginalized. Current promises to curb global warming have remained mere "half-measures (that) simply delay the inevitable disaster."
"You are the generation that can overcome this challenge, you have the most advanced scientific and technological instruments, but please do not fall into the trap of partial visions," he said.
"We need to put the drama of desertification in parallel with that of refugees, the issue of migration together with the decline in the birth rate, we need to deal with the material dimension of life within a spiritual dimension," he added.
Instead of polarized approaches, the pope pointed out that "we need visions of the whole, a vision capable of embracing the whole."
Many young Catholics around the world have adopted some of Francis' main teachings on correcting economic injustices and promoting environmental protection, joining church-sponsored foundations and social movements under the banner of the "Francis Economy," the "Global Compact for Education," and the "Laudato si" movement. Named after the 2015 papal encyclical on the environment.
Thursday's event included testimonies from students, including one who fled his native Iran to Ukraine, and then, after the start of the Russian war in the country, escaped to Portugal. Every so often, the students sang the Portuguese version of the most repeated hymn at WYD, "This is the Pope's youth."
Francis arrived in Lisbon on Wednesday and focused squarely on the country's clergy sex abuse crisis, which worsened after a committee of experts hired by Portugal's bishops' conference reported in February that priests and other church staff may have abused at least 4,815 boys and girls since the 1950s.
In his meeting with bishops at Lisbon's iconic Jerónimos Monastery, Francis lashed out at Portuguese clergy for the "scandal" of sexual abuse, which he said harmed the church and frightened the faithful. In addition, he said that victims should always be welcomed and heard.
In the evening, after a long day of travel and protocol visits, the pontiff met for more than an hour with 13 victims at the Vatican embassy and listened to their traumas, the Vatican said.
- Pope Francis I
According to the criteria of The Trust Project