Pope to engage in online dialogue with University students of the Americas
By Vatican News staff writer
University students from the Americas will link up with Pope Francis for about an hour and a quarter, to discuss education, migration, environmental sustainability, economic justice and integral human development in a synodal manner.
Scheduled for Thursday, 24 February at 7 pm (CET) the event foresees an open conversation between the students, the Pope and to talk about building a world made of bridges and collaboration in the spirit of Fratelli tutti.
A number of migrants will also be linked up to give their fundamental perspective.
The event has been conceived and organized by the Department of Theology of Loyola University in Chicago in collaboration with the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Institute of Pastoral Studies and the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage.
Organized in four blocks pertaining to different geographical regions, the students will present their projects and works to the Pope and ask questions about the present and future of their country, their generation, and their lives.
The Pope will answer each question and help them define a constructive path that foresees the “Building of Bridges”.
In concrete, this means “facilitating authentic and constructive dialogues between those who have crossed geographic, cultural and social borders, working on projects and supporting the skills of each individual in order to build lasting relationships that lead to understanding, compassion and wisdom.”
'Pope excited to dialogue with young people'
Initial presentations of the event are entrusted to Cardinal Blaise Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and to Argentine theologian Emilce Cuda, who was recently appointed as Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
It is thanks to Professor Cuda that Pope Francis has been involved in this event, which was born as a youth initiative to give concrete form to the Pontiff's invitation to be a synodal Church in dialogue.
Speaking to Vatican News she said: "My colleagues at Loyola invited me to give a conference for young people on synodality, a word of great significance that will be built up over these three years of the synodal journey. Then they said 'why don't you invite the Holy Father?' It seemed crazy to me, but I thought about it and invited Pope Francis. He was very pleased and is enthusiastic to be able to speak to them about the present and the future."
The experience of migrants
Among the young people who will dialogue with the Pope, there are also some who have been forced to leave their homes.
They will bring the perspective not only of those who cross borders in the quest for a life of hope and dignity but also of those who are displaced within their own nations and who do not have any kind of protection.
A particular group of migrants is that of people who are on the move within Latin America or from the Caribbean countries, and that includes many children and students.
"The Pope will dialogue with these university students, sharing concrete educational projects that seek to transform environmental and economic realities with justice," Emilce Cuda explains. "For example, Latin America suffers from the exploitation of natural resources, but given the ecological changes, in order to continue living off its resources, technology is needed. And that is possible by getting onto the right path for transition. The problem is that local universities often don't have the scientific-technological resources they need; but if they collaborate with universities in the North, this can represent a hope for Latin America, as well as for academics from other continents who can take on more responsibility and expand their projects."