During his time in Portugal, Pope Francis spoke to university students and encouraged them to strive for a more equitable and inclusive society. He urged today’s youth to use their position of power to combat problems like climate change and economic inequality.
The Catholic University of Portugal, one of the country’s most prestigious educational institutions, warmly welcomed Francis. Under the hot Lisbon sun, students on campus sometimes erupted into papal chants.
Francis planned to visit the Scolas Occurrentes branch in the coastal town of Cascais after the ceremony, a movement he started many years ago to unite young people from diverse cultures and origins.
World Youth Day is a sizeable Catholic gathering started by St. John Paul II in the 1980s to inspire and unite young Catholics. Francis will be in Lisbon for the event over the weekend. Francis has enthusiastically taken up John Paul’s banner, seeking to inspire today’s youth to back his ideals of social justice, economic growth, and environmental protection.
In his address to the students on Thursday, Francis encouraged them to think outside the box and resist the inclination to play it safe to maintain the current global system of elitism and injustice.
A university education, he said, is more than simply a ticket to a better life for oneself; it is a moral obligation to contribute to creating a more equitable and welcoming society for everyone.
Francis urged the students to use their resources and knowledge to help others, including by protecting the environment and advocating for people experiencing poverty. He said the existing pledges to combat global warming are half-measures that put off danger for a bit longer.
The Pope told the students that they could be the generation to tackle this problem finally. Even though we can access powerful scientific and technical instruments, he cautioned against narrow and insufficient approaches.
Francis said that we must adopt a holistic perspective in place of competing ideologies and that we need to link the plight of desertification victims with that of refugees, the issue of growing migration with the problem of a falling birthrate, and place the tangible world in the perspective of the spiritual.