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WYD 2013: Pope Francis speaks to journalists on papal plane to Brazil


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted some seventy journalists aboard the papal plane Monday as it flew from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for World Youth Day celebrations. The reporters included 10 Brazilians, 10 from the U.S., 9 from France, 6 from Spain, plus journalists from the U.K. Mexico, Germany, Japan, Argentina, Poland, Portugal and Russia.

In a brief exchange with the journalists, the Pope expressed particular concern about the risk of an entire generation of people without jobs. Tracey McClure reports:
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Pope Francis told reporters “this first trip of mine is to meet young people, (to see them) … not as isolated young people but immersed in their social context, in society. Because when we isolate young people, we do them an injustice: we take away their ‘belonging.’”

Young people, the Holy Father said, “belong to a family, to a country, to a culture and a faith.” They represent the future of a people “because they have the energy;” but Pope Francis added, “the future is also the elderly because they are the custodians of the ‘wisdom of life’, the history, the home and the family." A people has no future - he continued - if it goes ahead without the strength of its youth and the elderly.

The Pope reflected on the global economic crisis and the possibility that young people may find themselves out of work. "We have the risk of having a generation that did not have work" said the Pope. And from work he noted, one derives "the dignity of the person" - "from earning his bread."

“Young people today are in crisis,” he said, “and we are used to this disposable culture: it happens all too often to the elderly.” But young jobless people are also getting caught up in this disposable culture. What we need today he said, is a "culture of inclusion, a culture of encounter." And this invitation to reporters: "I ask you to help me”- concluded the Pope - and work for the good of the society of young people and the elderly."

Greeting the Pope on behalf of all the journalists, Valentina Alazraki, correspondent in Italy for the Mexican network Televisa, gave him a small statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, "not only the Queen of Mexico,” said the journalist, “but Patroness of all America.” In her brief introductory remarks, Alazraki cited the biblical story of Daniel in the lions' den, referring to journalists who are often portrayed as such. Pope Francis joked on this point by stating that lions "were not so bad" and confessed to not his not readily giving interviews because “it's a bit exhausting to do them.”