On Thursday, January 24, his first full day in the Central American nation, the Pope addressed the country’s authorities, representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps in the capital’s Palacio de las Garzas, the governmental office and residence of the President of Panama. Speaking in his native Spanish, the Pontiff evoked the image of a “great fatherland” as envisaged by Simon Bolivar, looking upon Panama as a land of convocation and of dreams.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you, Mr President, for your words of welcome and your kind invitation to visit this nation. In addressing you, I would like to greet and thank all the people of Panama who, from Darién to Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro, have made a marvellous effort to welcome the many young people arriving from all over the world. Thank you for having opened to us the doors of your home.
I begin my pilgrimage in this historical precinct where Simón Bolívar, who stated that “if the world had to choose its capital, the Isthmus of Panama would be marked out for this great destiny”, convoked the leaders of his time to forge the dream of the unification of the Great Fatherland. A convocation that helps us realize that our peoples are able to create, to forge and, above all, to dream of a great fatherland that can include, respect and embrace the multicultural richness of each people and culture. Taking up this inspiration, we can look upon Panama as a land of convocation and of dreams.
1. A land of convocation
This was seen in the Congress of Panama and is seen today too in the arrival of thousands of young people who bring with them the hope and desire to meet and celebrate with one another.
Thanks to its privileged location, your country is a strategic enclave not only for the region but also for the entire world. A bridge between oceans and a natural land of
Each of you has a special place in the building of the
The genius of these lands is marked by the richness of its indigenous peoples: the
The younger generation, with its joy and enthusiasm, with its freedom, sensitivity and critical capacity, demands that adults, and especially all those who exercise roles of leadership in public life, lead a life consonant with the dignity and authority that they possess and that has been entrusted to them. They call upon them to live in simplicity and transparency, with a clear sense of responsibility for others and for our world. To lead a life that demonstrates that public service is a synonym of honesty and justice, and opposed to all forms of corruption. Young people demand a commitment in which all – beginning with those of us who call ourselves Christians – have the audacity to build “an authentically human politics” (Gaudium et Spes, 73) that makes the person the centre and heart of everything. A politics that works to build a culture of greater transparency between governments, the private sector and the entire population, in the words of your prayer for your country: “Give us our daily bread: may we eat it in our own homes and in a state of health worthy of human beings”.
2. A land of dreams
In these days, Panama will not only be spoken of as a regional centre or strategic site for commerce or the transit of persons: it will turn into a hub of hope. A meeting-point where young people coming from the five continents, brimming with dreams and hopes, will celebrate, meet one another, pray and kindle their desire and commitment to building a more humane world. In this way, they will defy the shortsighted and short-term views that, seduced by resignation or greed, or prey to the technocratic paradigm, believe that the only way forward is to obey the “laws of competition, [speculation] and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless” (Evangelii Gaudium, 53). To believe that would be to close the future to a new
Another world is possible! We know this and young people urge us to take our part in building it, so that our dreams do not remain ephemeral or ethereal, but can promote a social contract in which everyone has the chance to dream of a tomorrow. The right to the future is also a human right.
Against this horizon, the words of Ricardo Miró seem to come alive. In singing to his beloved homeland, he said: “When they see you, my native land, they might say that you were shaped by God’s will, so that beneath the sun shining down upon you, all humanity can come together in you” (Patria de
Once more I thank you for everything you have done to make this meeting possible, and I express to you, Mr President, to all those here present, and all those who join us through the communications media, my best wishes for renewed hope and joy in the service of the common good.