Pope to young: Go against current, live chastely, don't trust governments

TURIN, ITALY — Pope Francis has told young people they should always seek to go against the current of modern culture, live chaste lives, and not put their trust in worldly governments or powers.

Speaking in an incredibly dense and personal off the cuff address to thousands of youth in this northern Italian city Sunday, the pontiff used colorful, blunt words to express his dissatisfaction at modern culture and at how world leaders tend to treat human beings.

Addressing the question of a young woman who expressed her distrust in society after not being able to find work for years, the pope said: "In Europe there is war, in Africa there is war, in Asia there is war. But can I have trust in a world like this? Can I trust the world's managers?"

"When I go to give my vote for a candidate, can I trust that they will not bring my country to war?" Francis asked.

"If you put trust only in people, you lose," he said.

Then, continuing to speak about people who make arms or invest in arms sales, the pope exclaimed: "They say they are Christians!"

"'No no, Father, I do not make [them]," Francis imitated such a person. "'I only have my investments in the fabrication of arms.'"

"Why?" the pontiff asked. "Because the interests are a bit higher. And so the double-face is money flowing today; to say one thing and do the other. Hypocrisy."

Continuing on the subject of war to speak about both the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century and the Jewish holocaust, Francis said: "The great powers had photographs of the railways that brought trains to concentration camps, to Auschwitz, to kill Jews, Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals."

"But tell me, why didn't they bomb them?" he asked. "The great powers, they divided Europe like a cake."

"I will tell you a word," Francis told the youth. "Go against the current."

"Many times commercials want to convince us that this is beautiful, this is good, they make us believe that these are diamonds but the sell glass!" he exclaimed. "We must go against this, not be naive. Don't buy the filth that they tell us are diamonds."

Speaking earlier on chastity, Francis said: "I know that you are all good, but permit me to speak with sincerity."

"I would not like to be a moralist, but I would like to give an un-liked word, an unpopular word," he continued. "Even the pope must risk sometimes to say the truth."

"Love is very respectful of people," said the pontiff. "It does not use people. And, namely, love is chaste. And to you all, young people, in this hedonist world, in this world where there are only commercials, pleasure ... I tell you: Be chaste! Be chaste!"

"It is right to try for a genuine love, that knows to give life, that does not search to use the other for its own pleasure," the pope continued. "A love that makes sacred the life of the other person: 'I respect you, I do not want to use you.' It is not easy, we all know the difficulty to overcome this easy and hedonistic conception of love."

"Forgive me, but I ask you," he said. "Make the labor to live love chastely."

Francis is in Turin, the historic and once Italian capital on the northwestern border of the country with France and Switzerland, for a two-day visit Sunday and Monday.

Earlier Sunday he met with laborers and members of the Salesian order, whose founder was from the area around Turin. Monday Francis is to meet with members of his extended family. His parents emigrated from the Turin area to Argentina.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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