We can still hear the many voices of boys and girls who, prompted by a great man, filled the Italian sky and we hope the one of the whole world with honest promises. Once again from a stadium, place for sports and fun, Pope Francis has spoken to a lot of people, especially young people and families, orienting and involving many educators. I still remember with strong emotion when the Holy Father met on 1 June 2014 the people of the Charismatic Movement, the ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity.
Also on that occasion he addressed the young people giving a strong message: “It would be sad that a young man keep his youth in a safe: so that this youth becomes old, in the worst sense of the word”. I can only imagine the sacrifice needed for the organizers of the event in the Meazza Stadium with 80 thousand visitors including the youth that is preparing to receive the sacrament of Holy Confirmation and those that have already received it in the diocese of Milan, a portion of the young Church in journey towards a future that will have to be able to take on the new challenges of a time that is perhaps the most difficult that our history has ever lived. Pope Francis however did not miss the opportunity to announce to the youth a strong educational message and, also on this occasion, using a language that was simple but at the same time intense and creative.
He wanted to emphasize on a specific theme with them. He addressed the young people urging them to reflect on a theme that is always more invasive, bullying. The issue that every day sees many teachers and educators engaged in updating courses, talks with families, conferences aimed to provide solutions to this serious youth behaviour present especially in schools and places frequented by children of every social class, is analysed by Pope Francis with extreme naturalness.
At a communicative level, he takes for granted that the phenomenon of bullying is also present among apparently “healthy” youth, as the young people who are following a journey of faith should be, and therefore none of them should feel extraneous to this issue. In this reflecting together, none could feel excluded from a certain attitude of superiority and challenge that is often adopted towards the mate that is considered “inferior” for some reason, sometimes not real, but induced by a society that rewards winners. “Kids, is there in your school, in your neighbourhood someone to whom you do mockery, that you fool because he has some defect? And you like to make him ashamed and you beat him up him for this? This is called bullying…”. Then he does not intervene with words of high pedagogy or redundant educational principles that could take away the attention of the kids, he directly passes to describe the sense of their being in that stadium: “For the sacrament of the Holy Confirmation would you promise now to the Lord that you will never practice bullying and that you will never allow it to happen in your school or in your neighbourhood? Do you promise it? Never fool or mock a schoolmate, a friend of your neighbourhood. Would you promise this today?”. The response of the stadium is a great “yes”, but for Pope Francis it is not enough, “The Pope is not happy”, replies the Pontiff. Then the affirmative response of the kids becomes a scream of acceptance: “Now you have said yes to the Pope!”. But immediately after he let the Holy Spirit bring in their hearts the experience of that acceptance: “In silence think what a bad thing is bullying and think if you are really capable of making this promise to Jesus”. I am sure that in that moment many words, emotions, experienced have crossed the heart and the mind of the many young people present, many memories, violence provoked or suffered have been “healed” by that yes said to the Lord and made as a seal, as a promise for the whole life.
As in 2014 at the Olympic Stadium of Rome, also at the Meazza Stadium Pope Francis transformed an event of joy and festivity in a triumph of Grace. With only three arguments, explained with the language of simplicity, he reached the point of what should not be lacking in educating our children: to consider and to speak with grandparents to make memory and history in the family; to play with friends and especially with parents, because “the faith is lived in a family environment that promotes the gratuitousness, spending time together; attend the parish, the oratory, place of the encounter with the Word of God.
The charisma of Pope Bergoglio is certainly the one of knowing how to speak to the people, especially young people thirsting for a model to take as an example in life because through the narration of his past and present life he proves to be genuine. Young people recognize him, in this time of dismay of the adults, as an important figure who is talking to the new generations with fatherly concern, but always presenting the value of life and, for the many young people who do not know the word future, for resignation or absence of tomorrow, this is great.
Certainly, the figure of a pope who talks about playing, about parents who must spend more time with their children, about veal cutlets may upset that part of believers accustomed to certain labels and styles which nevertheless belong to the hierarchical Church and certainly maintain their meaning and value. But how can one get to the many young people that are completely distracted by false models, considered attractive by the same adults tired and demotivated, to recognize the real meaning of life? Pope Francis succeeds and proves once again to be the winner in authenticity, proves to understand more than many other people the real strengths and weaknesses of the young people of today, witnesses with perfect consistency his belief in the Lord because it is he himself first that acts as he professes. I challenge other people today to be like him, ready to revolutionise the logics of the world and, to stay on the subject, “to put the ball in the centre… of existence. And then we can conclude that in the Meazza Stadium, Pope Francis has chosen to put same Jesus in the field and to make Him play, the only one at the centre of the field to make the 80 thousand young people feel the joy of believing in Him.