By Vatican News
World Youth Day in Panama took place in late January this year. But the event is still clearly very much alive in the Pope’s memory.
Meeting with a group of pilgrims from Panama in the Vatican on Thursday, Pope Francis thanked them for all the work that went into making WYD 2019 such a success. “It's good to thank each other”, he said, because “it's a word we often forget”.
The “nobility” of Panama
The Pope focussed his message to the pilgrims on the theme of gratitude. Referring to his experience in Panama in January, he said “I too am very grateful for what I saw: a noble people”. “Nobility is not bought”, he continued, “it is inherited, breathed, lived. You are either noble or you are not noble”. Pope Francis described Panama as “a noble country” where protocol can be broken even by bishops and civil authorities. He remembered seeing authorities, including the President, “in jeans and a t-shirt”, in the midst of the people. “That's nobility”, he explained, “it's respect for the people, love for the people”.
The “identity” of Panama
Pope Francis remembered the “mini youth day” that was prepared especially for children. He also spoke of the importance of engaging children in what he called “intergenerational dialogue”, in order to draw inspiration “from the roots” so that children may “grow and flourish”. “Ideological colonisations”, he warned, “kill nobility”, while bridges built between one generation and another “help one's own identity”.
The “roots” of Panama
Finally, Pope Francis thanked his visitors for the respect they have shown local indigenous peoples. “It’s good to be able to say: No, our people didn't start from here; our people also have roots that must be integrated”. The ability to integrate is another sign of nobility”, he said. The Pope admitted he had been “very happy in Panama”, saying he could breathe an air of “normality and tenderness” there. Pope Francis said that perhaps one of his Successors would call another World Youth Day there, maybe “in about 150 years from now!”