Daniel Zaccaro, a 25 year old Italian from a poor, crime-ridden neighbourhood of Milan narrated how he sank into crime, landing in prison at the age of 18. But good souls helped him come out of the dark tunnel and today he is in university.
Another young man from Iraq, Aziz Sadeq, narrated how in just one day, without warning, he lost his home, friends, family and dreams when terrorists invaded his village. He was 18. After two months of despair in exile, France welcomed his parents, where Sadeq has managed to rebuilt his life. He has graduated from high school and is in the university today.
Pope Francis said he was moved by their “personal stories, imbued with passion and pain, animated by desires, solicited by aspirations, marked by falls but also by the desire to rise again, to face the challenges of life in a positive way and to run towards the most beautiful goals.”
The Pope said they have experienced first-hand the illusions of contemporary man, who believes he can dominate the world and at times does not realize that he is in turn dominated by idols such as money, power and pleasure, that sow injustice and corruption. “But the most touching thing in your stories,” the Pope said, “is the discovery that another life is possible.” “Jesus does not leave us alone in our adventure, especially in moments that put us to the test.”
Pope Francis said he was also struck by their questions which expressed their desire to become protagonists of change and to participate fully in the mission of the Church.
And the first way to be protagonists and to participate, the Pope pointed out, is precisely to ask questions, because they come from that attitude of seeking that is typical of young people, a search that does not want to stop at theory but to arrive at practice, choice of life and behavior. Rather than “why”, they should rather ask “how” to solve problems, the Pope added.