Pope Francis participated in the theater play “The faces of the pandemic” performed by young people from the Scholas community from 42 countries. The Supreme Pontiff arrived at the Pontifical Collegio Internazionale Maria Mater Ecclesiae in Rome, where the students are living together. There he was received by them accompanied by the founders of Scholas, José María del Corral and Enrique Palmeyro, and the Minister of Education of Italy, Patrizio Bianchi.
Francisco drew a smile on his “icon” as a message: “I made a smile, the ability to smile is to be open to others and to risk life without fear.”
The young people, aged between 16 and 27, have diverse cultural, socio-economic and religious backgrounds. These include refugees, political asylum, students from prestigious universities and young people excluded from the educational system.
“Today was very exciting. Those young people told the Pope what happened to their faces during the pandemic. How anxiety, fear, isolation affected them, how it marked them on their faces. The Pope took that himself, intervened his own mask with a smile. He invited them to that smile ”, he told Infobae del Corral.
The MIUR (Ministero dell’istruzione, dell’università e della ricerca) and Scholas convened students from all over the world so that they can express their educational experiences lived during the pandemic, as well as the lessons learned in their various schools.
Many of them were meeting for the first time in person after 21 months of meeting weekly in the virtual, international, wallless classroom that Scholas created and maintained throughout the pandemic.. In a context of uncertainty, and with schools closed, Scholas promoted these spaces where young people not only shared their pain and concerns but also how each one was coping with confinement in their country. This is how this community of young people was formed, which today is institutionalized in Rome.
Francisco explained that the capacity for encounter keeps a community open: “When we lose that capacity for encounter with the other, we become fossilized, the soul fossilizes, the heart fossilizes. Creativity is what drives you, it is a risk. But a community without creativity is a mask where everyone has a uniform face and a uniform heart, where feelings are turned off, emotions are turned off, what is ordered is done, what is prescribed is done, what everyone does is done. And you lose your personality ”.
The activity coincided with the launch of the Fratelli Tutti Political School, which brings together 50 future leaders from different parts of the world. “It was not two audiences, it was the same class intervened by both together. This week adolescents are going to live with politicians so that solutions are created based on listening to the pain of others. Starting from concrete problems that will later be developed in the territory ”, added the founder of Scholas.
The School seeks to build an international community of young politicians from various regions, cultures and beliefs, with a vocation to create “a new policy inspired by the search for the Common Good, capable of transforming the lives of people and their environments.”
The Pope gave the first class of the Fratelli Tutti Political School, driven and guided by the pedagogical proposal of Scholas Occurrentes and the technical skills provided by the Liderar con Sentido Común Foundation.
Sosthene, a young man from Rwanda currently a refugee in South Africa, took the microphone and asked Francisco: “How can we as an international community give hope to the millions of people around the world who have had to leave their homes?”
The Supreme Pontiff replied: “The life of a refugee is to live on the street, but not on your street, not on the street of your city, but on the street of life where you are ignored, trampled on, treated like nothing. . That is why we have to open our hearts to the life of the refugee […] he is someone who ran away to live and risks his life to live ”.
Fratelli Tutti’s academic year will combine virtual and face-to-face sessions. In the face-to-face sessions, various cases of the problems raised by young people from Mozambique, Argentina, Haiti, Italy and Romania will be studied. This first class will learn to listen to the specific problems suffered by young people and their communities and then seek creative solutions with them.
Testimonies of two Argentines who participated in the activity
INTERNATIONAL SCHOLAS PROGRAM
Magui – Buenos Aires, 19 years old
Scholas I met him two years ago when the pandemic started, in virtual meetings. It was very important for us to get to know each other during the confinement, to feel accompanied, to share our fears, our pains. Being here today in the flesh with everyone and being able to hug them is very moving.
I had never had this experience before, that they take us to work thinking from the inside, from the art, it seems very cool to me. Expectations I tried not to bring, it is good to be surprised, I was eager to meet these people who knew me half my life and had never been able to hug. Being able to meet and see each other for the first time face to face was very nice.
FRATELLI TUTTI POLITICAL SCHOOL PROGRAM
María Virginia – Córdoba, 29 years old
The call that I feel today we have as leaders is to be able to participate in our environment, observing from our communities and ecosystems the reality of the other and of our Mother Earth. To be able from there to discern and respond with concrete actions, that they are bridge builders and that they respond to reality today.
My expectation for the school is that it be a means for us as a community to make that response and build bridges together.