By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Everyone is born with a treasure chest of gifts and talents that they need to discover and share, Pope Francis told a group of young people with disabilities who explained to him how technology has brought them joy and helps them communicate.
Seven young people from six countries shared their stories with the pope and asked him questions Feb. 5 during a Google Hangout, a live video conversation online.
“You help us understand that life is a beautiful treasure that has meaning only if we share,” the pope told the young people.
Alicia, a 16-year-old amateur filmmaker from Spain, asked Pope Francis if he, too, likes to take photographs and upload them to his computer.
“Do you want me to tell you the truth,” he asked the young woman with Down syndrome. “I am a disaster with machines. I don’t know how to deal with a computer. It’s embarrassing, isn’t it?”
The videochat with the pope came at the conclusion of a gathering in the Vatican of Scholas Occurrentes, a project Pope Francis supported as archbishop of Buenos Aires and expanded as pope. Through schools it links students from different neighborhoods, countries, economic backgrounds and faiths to promote communication, understanding and cooperation.
Isaiah Bauer from Kearney High School in Kearney, Nebraska, and his schoolmate Teynor Karson also were part of the Google Hangout. Bauer told the pope he has difficulty keeping up with his studies and that his “lack of fine motor skills” slows down his writing and typing.
“What do you do when you face something difficult?” Bauer asked the pope.
“First, I try not to get angry, stay calm. Then I try to figure out how to do it, to overcome the difficulty. If that is not possible, I try to endure it until I have the possibility of overcoming it,” he said. “We should not be afraid of difficulty. We are capable of overcoming anything, but we need time to understand, intelligence and courage to keep moving forward.”
Manoj Kumar, a 13-year-old from India, who told the pope he is a big fan of Bruce Lee films on YouTube, asked the pope how the Scholas Occurrentes project can help young people.
“Building bridges, communicating with each other,” the pope responded. “When you communicate with each other, giving the best of what you have inside and receiving the best from others, this is very important. When we do not communicate we are left alone with our limitations and this is bad for us.”
Pope Francis ended the conversation with the young people by telling them and the thousands of other children watching online around the world, “All of you have a chest, a box, and inside there is a treasure. Your job is to open the chest, discover the treasure, develop it, give it to others and receive from others the treasures they offer.”
Some people discover their treasure quickly, the pope said, but sometimes “it’s like playing treasure hunt because it is not found easily. But once you find it, share it.”
“Each one of us has a treasure inside,” he said. “If we keep it there, closed up, it will stay there. If we share it with others, the treasure will multiply with the treasures that come from others. What I want to ask of you is that you do not hide the treasure that each of you has.”