Pope Francis stressed care for others, especially those in need, during a meeting with about 10,000 young people hours before he ended his three-day visit to Bangladesh on Dec. 2. Speaking before a mixed crowd of Christian and Muslim students at Dhaka’s Notre Dame University, the pontiff warned against a “culture that makes false promises.” He said such attitude can only lead to “self-centeredness that fills the heart with darkness and bitterness.” He made the statement a day after he met with 16 Rohingya refugees
who have fled persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The refugees, including a child and at least two young people, told ucanews.com in an interview that the pontiff promised to help tell the Rohingya story to the world. “Do not spend the whole day playing with your phone and ignoring the world around you,” the pontiff told his young audience hours before he flew back to the Vatican. “It is sad when we start to shut ourselves up in our little world and become inward-looking
… and we become trapped, self-enclosed,” he said at the end of his six-day trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh. In what has become a recurring theme of his pronouncements in Bangladesh, the pontiff again spoke of dialogue and harmony. “I am happy that, together with Catholics, we also have with us many young Muslim friends and those from other religious backgrounds
,” he said at the university event. He lauded what he said was the determination of the country’s young people “to foster an environment of harmony, of reaching out to others, regardless of your religious differences.” The pope said he always finds “something unique” about young people, especially in their enthusiasm, adding that it makes him feel rejuvenated. The pontiff linked “youthful enthusiasm” to the spirit of adventure that he said makes the new generation “always ready to move forward” and take risks. “I encourage you to keep moving with this enthusiasm in the good times and the bad times,” said Pope Francis said. He warned, however, his audience to make sure to choose the right path by not “wandering aimlessly” in their journey. “Life is not without direction, (and) has a purpose given to us by God,” he said. “He guides and directs us with his grace,” he added.
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The pope said that it is as if God placed within each person a computer software that helps us “to discern his divine program.” He said every individual has the freedom to respond to God’s program, “but like all software, it too needs constantly to be updated.” “Keep updating your program by listening to God,” he said, adding that “the wisdom of God” helps people to know how to accept others. He said God’s wisdom “helps us to look beyond ourselves to see the goodness in our cultural heritage.” He noted the culture of Bangladesh and Asia of respect for the elderly who “bring with them memory and the wisdom of experience, which help us to avoid the repetition of past mistakes.” Pope Francis said the elderly have the “charism of bridging the gap” and ensure that important values are passed down to the next generation. In parting, the pope noted that when a people, a religion or a society “turns into a ‘little world,’ they lose the best that they have and plunge into a self-righteous mentality.” He reminded the young people that the wisdom of God “opens us up to others” and “helps us to look beyond our personal comforts and the false securities.” #popeheartofasia #PopeFrancis