By Linda Bordoni
“Phones are for connecting” Pope Francis told an enthusiastic Paul VI Hall full of students: “life is for communicating!”
The girls and boys, accompanied by family members and teachers of Rome’s Visconti High School clapped loudly when the Pope turned his attention to their ever-present digital devices.
"Free yourself from the addiction to mobile phones" he warned, pointing out that they are good and useful tools, but must be used in the right way.
Speaking off-the-cuff during his wide-ranging and to-the-point discourse, the Pope said “Mobile phones are for communication” and communication is beautiful and good. But, he continued, the danger of becoming addicted to mobile phones is very tangible at present.
Every one, he continued, should know how to use one, “but when you become a slave to your mobile phone, you will lose your freedom”.
Schools must promote culture of encounter
Pope Francis also expressed his deep belief that education is a precious right and said that schools must be places where a culture of inclusion and the respect for diversity must be promoted.
School, he said, must be a laboratory that anticipates and prepares for the future of collectivity.
“Please don't be afraid of diversity. Dialogue between different cultures enriches the country, enriches our homeland: it teaches us to look to a future in which there is a place and a home for all, not just for some” he said.
The Pope noted that, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, the Church is committed to promote the universal value of fraternity which is based on freedom, on the honest search for truth, on the promotion of justice and solidarity, especially in regards to the weakest in society.
“Without the search for these values, there can be no true coexistence” he said, and this is something for which "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry”.
The Pope also touched on the scourge of bullying which is a problem in many school environments.
“It pains me so much to see bullying in some schools” he said inviting the students to fighting bullying which he said contains the seeds of war.
Finally, he urged the young people present “never to stop dreaming big and hoping for a better world for all: “don’t settle for mediocrity in relationships, in cultivating who you are, in planning for your future, in your commitment for a more just and more beautiful world”.
Tomorrow, he reminded them, is the beginning of Holy week which culminates on Easter Day with the resurrection of Christ, the foundation of Christian hope: “It is also a time of renewal for the soul, a time to blossom!” Pope Francis said, inviting those present to do so with trust in the Lord as it is He who gives us the strength and the courage to face the difficulties we will find on our journey.