Rome, November 26, 2021- Pope Francis participated in the theatrical play “The Faces of the Pandemics” performed by youngsters from the Scholas community from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Italy, Iraq, Spain, Liberia, India, Guatemala, Egypt, Ecuador, Japan, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Poland, United Kingdom, United States, Dominican Republic, South Africa, Nigeria, Uruguay, Rwanda, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Vietnam, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The Holy Father arrived at the Pontifical Collegio Internazionale Maria Mater Ecclesiae (Rome) where the youngsters are sharing these days together. He was received by the children and by the founders of Scholas, José María del Corral and Enrique Palmeyro, and the Italian Minister of Education, Patrizio Bianchi, among other present authorities.
The young people, aged between 16 and 27, come from diverse cultural, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. They include refugees, asylum seekers, students from prestigious universities and even others excluded from the educational system.
The MIUR (Ministero dell’istruzione, dell’università e della ricerca) and Scholas invited students from all over the world to convey their experiences during the pandemics, as well as the teachings learned in their various schools.
Many of them met for the first time in person after 21 months of meeting weekly in the virtual and international wall-less classroom that Scholas created and maintained throughout the pandemics. In a context of uncertainty, and with schools closed, Scholas promoted these virtual environments where young people not only shared their pains, anguishes and concerns, but also how each one was dealing with the lockdowns imposed by governments in most of their countries. This is how this community of young people was formed and is now institutionalized in Rome.
The Holy Father explained that the capacity for encounter keeps a community open: “When we lose this capacity for encounter with others we become fossilized, the soul becomes fossilized, the heart becomes fossilized”.
The students presented a theatre play to Pope Francis in which they showed him the “face” of the pandemics through artistic interventions of icons. They also invited Pope Francis himself to perform his own artistic intervention on the icon.
“Creativity is what drives you” Pope Francis said in this regard, “creativity is taking risks”. “A community without creativity is like wearing a mask where everyone has a uniform face and a uniform heart, where feelings are turned off, emotions are turned off, and only what is commanded is done, what is prescribed is done, what everyone does is done…”. “It is then when you lose your personality”, he stated.
Another fifty of these young people began a year of joint work as scholars of the Fratelli Tutti Political School, launched from the Vatican on May 20th, the political and human training program inspired by his Encyclical. This School seeks to build an international community of young politicians from diverse regions, cultures and beliefs, with a vocation to create a new way of doing politics, inspired by the search for the Common Good and capable of transforming the lives of people and their environments.
Pope Francis gave the first masterclass of the Fratelli Tutti Political School driven and guided by the pedagogical proposal of Scholas Occurrentes and the technical skills provided by the Foundation Leading with Common Sense.
Sosthene, a young man from Rwanda currently a refugee in South Africa asked Pope Francis, “How can we, as an international community, give hope to the millions of people around the world who have had to leave their homes?”
Pope Francis 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, you are trampled on, you are treated as nothing. That is why we have to open our hearts to the life of the refugee […] he is someone who escaped to live and risks his life to live”.
Pope Francis congratulated all the refugees who are part of this experience.
The academic year of the Fratelli Tutti Political School will combine virtual and face-to-face sessions. In these ones, various issues raised by young people from Mozambique, Argentina, Haiti, Italy and Romania will be dealt with and studied. The students will empathically seek creative solutions together with the local community, so as to generate a positive impact.