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[Mexico City, 28-31 October 2019]



Dear young people of Scholas Occurrentes, gathered together from so many nations of the world, I celebrate with you the end of this meeting. I want to be there, I want to be there at the end.

What would become of this meeting if it did not have an end? Perhaps it wouldn’t be an encounter. And what would become of this life if it didn’t also have its end?

I know that someone is going to say: “Father, do not hold a funeral”. But let us think this through. I know from a good source that they kept the question of death burning throughout the experience. There they played out, pondered and created from their differences.

Well, I celebrate and thank you for this. Because, you know what? The question of death is the question of life, and keeping the question of death open, perhaps, is the greatest human responsibility so as to keep the question of life open.

Just as words are born from silence and end there, allowing us to hear their meanings, so it is with life. This may sound somewhat paradoxical, but... It is death that allows life to remain alive!

It is the end that allows a story to be written, a painting to be painted, two bodies to embrace. But beware, the end is not alone at the end. Perhaps we should pay attention to each small end of everyday life. Not only at the end of the story - we never know when it will end - but at the end of each word, at the end of each silence, of each page that is written. Only a life that is conscious of this instant that is coming to an end, can make this instant eternal.

On the other hand, death reminds us of the impossibility of being, understanding and encompassing everything. It is a slap in the face to our illusion of omnipotence. It teaches us in life to relate to mystery. The confidence of jumping into the void and realizing that we do not fall, that we do not sink; that since always and forever there is someone there who sustains us. Before and after the end.

It is the “not knowing” of this question is where we find the fragility that opens us to listening to and encountering the other; it is that arising from the commotion that calls us to create; and from the sense that brings us together to celebrate it.

Finally, in the question of death, different communities, peoples and cultures have always been formed - throughout the ages and throughout the lands. The different stories that fight in so many corners to stay alive, and others that were not yet born. That is why today, perhaps as never before, we should touch on this question.

The world is configured thus: everything is explained, there is no room for the open question. Is that true? It is true, but then it is not true. That is our world. It has been shaped in this way and there is no place for the open question. In a world that worships autonomy, self-sufficiency and self-realization, there seems to be no place for the other. The world of projects and infinite acceleration, of rapidity, does not allow interruptions, and so the worldly culture that enslaves us seeks to anesthetize us in order to forget what it means to stop at last.

But the oblivion of death is also its beginning, and also, a culture that forgets death begins to die within. He who forgets death has already begun to die.

That is why I thank you so much! Because you had the courage to open this question and to pass through the body the three deaths that by emptying out, fill us with life! The death of every instant. The death of the ego. And the death of a world that gives way to a new one.

Remember, if death does not have the last word, it is because in life we learned to die for another.

Finally, I would like to thank especially ORT Mundial and each one of the people and institutions that made possible this activity in which the culture of encounter becomes palpable.

And I ask each of you please, each in your own way, each one of you according to your own convictions: do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.

*Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office, 31 October 2019

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