Following Mass at the Cathedral of Bangui, Pope Francis presided over a vigil prayer with youths from the Central African Republic.
One of them explained to the Pope their principal difficulties: access to education, unemployment, violence, and the failure to attain peace. He told him that many young people dream of leaving to find a better future. Then he asked the Pope a direct question.
"Tell us, Holy Father, what do you want from the youth of Central Africa? What must we do for peace and prosperity to return to our country?”
The Pope called on them to stay and not abandon their country because of the difficulties.
"The way proposed in this difficult time of war, hatred and division is the path of resistance. Your friend said that some of you want to leave. Fleeing the challenges of life is never a solution. It is necessary to have the courage to resist, to struggle for good.”
The Pope explained to them that prayer is fundamental to resist any adversity. He also told them that peace is built day to day.
"Someone can tell me, 'Tell me father, how can I be a peacemaker?' First, you must never hate. And if someone does something bad to you, you must try to forgive. Never be hateful. Lots of forgiveness.”
He explained to them that it is always possible to forgive enemies and even to love them. That is the way, Pope Francis explained, to truly win.
"Can you love your enemy? Yes. Can you forgive when they have hurt you? Yes. With love and forgiveness you can be the victor.”
The Pope called on them to be brave with forgiveness, with love, and while searching for peace. Above all, he told them to have faith in God and pray. And he reminded them not to forget to pray for him too.
"Now I ask you to pray for me. So that I can be a good bishop. So that I can be a good Pope. Will you promise to pray for me?”
Afterward, Pope Francis heard confessions from some young people inside the cathedral before and walked around with lots of UN security escorts.