VATICAN: Pope Francis to African Children “Dare to Be Different”

By Paschal Norbert

VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2023 (CISA) “You are the sign of this rich cultural diversity.  I invite you to dare to be “different”, to bear witness to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, courage, forgiveness, the struggle for justice and the common good, love for the poor, and social friendship,” said Pope Francis to a group of children from various African nations on May 29, 2023.

In commemoration of the African Day – the founding of the African Union (AU) celebrated annually on May 25, Pope Francis on May 29 at the Paul VI Hall, met with a group of children from various African nations accompanied by their parents and some ambassadors. The Holy Father in his speech acclaimed the day “is a symbol of the struggle of the entire African continent for liberation, development, and economic and social progress, as well as for the strengthening and deepening of Africa’s cultural patrimony.”

Pope Francis challenged the children to take courage in the face of the many adversities the African continent is experiencing: “terrorism, bad governance, corruption, massive youth unemployment, migration, conflicts between communities and the climate and food crisis, among others.”

“In this context, you may feel helpless and discouraged, and think that your future is bleak and without prospects,” said the Supreme Pontiff.

He encouraged, “Never give up on your dreams, never completely bury a calling, and never accept defeat.  Keep seeking at least partial or imperfect ways to live what you have discerned to be your real calling” (ibid., 272).  One of Africa’s riches is the keen intelligence of its young people.  May your commitment to studies contribute to the human and integral development of society.”

The Holy Father also in a passionate appeal, urged the children to be close to other children who are child soldiers or are victims of all kinds of conflicts so that they do not feel rejected and stigmatized.

He reminded the children not to forget their culture, traditions and identity. He challenged them to constantly tap into the wisdom of their elders and to be ambassadors of peace, “so that the world can rediscover the beauty of love, of living together, of fraternity and solidarity.”

“Let the advice and witness of your elders enlighten you.  Dialoguing with our roots, with our elders, and with those who came before us, allows us to move forward.  One of the challenges of life is the struggle for peace.  As you well know, we are living in difficult times, with our human race in great danger.  We are in grave danger,” the pontiff counselled.