Straight Talk From The Pope To Youth

Young people, my friends, my brothers and sisters,

Many of my hopes for more just and human world find their roots and their support in the young. I continue to think that the young no longer tolerate the seven capital sins of the modern world: racism, colonialism, war, paternalism, pharisaism, alienation and fear. You cannot imagine how many letters I receive telling terrible about the young of today. Over against the seven capital sins you are fighting, they emphasize the seven capital sins into which you are said to fall: elitism, mental laziness, protest, drugs, sex, compromise and atheism.


They talk about your elitism because of your clothes, your music, your language, your reactions. People forget that every generation has its own style----it suffices the glance through an old family album.

Mental Laziness

Mental Laziness? You do not accept teaching which is dry as dust, out of date and remote from life, which the university tries to instill into you. The adults should have a go at discussing with you the real and terrible human problems of our time.


How can you not protest when you have to break through a shell of prejudices and to break down inhuman and reactionary structures? It is true that you often take your protest too far and that I doing so you invade your schools, take them over and sometimes ransack them. It is a pity that the universities----crammed as they are with psychologists, sociologists and educators ----have shown themselves incapable of foreseeing your revolt while it was taking shape, and that they do not manage to engage in dialogue with you.


As for drugs and narcotics, without doubt, you yourselves, the young, are already convince that drugs are only a false hope, whose price in terms of health, vitality and creativity is too heavy. But it is a pity that the adults do not ask themselves what lies behind the despair and bitterness which drives the young to the evasion. Those who condemn the young are very often incapable of thinking that perhaps their egoism, their lack of understanding and openness are directly connected with the drug invasion.


In what period has sex not exercised its powerful attractions? Certainly you yourselves------more simple, more authentic, more direct -----feel the necessity to investigate the mystery of love which, through it very often involves sex, is by no means reduced to the call of flesh. Too much talk is made of free love. But what is love really, and when can one talk of freedom?


Compromise? Her lies a real danger. To the degree in which the compromise all around you is broad and tempting, the struggle to be undertaken is more arduous. And compromise is a siren ready to seduce you.


Your position with regard to religion and God depends, to a great extent, on your attitude and response to life. When you meet people who are trying to live a religion which refuses to be opium of the masses, an alien and alienating force, when you meet a person of whom the love of God involves human love your atheism will give way to respect, to sympathy ---who knows? ---to faith.


If I know you as well as I think I do, we are in agreement on our way of looking at this world which is groaning with injustices. You will agree in recognizing that, in general, youth is losing patience and slipping into radical action and armed violence. You also agree that the governments are ready to react in a brutal way. Your doubts bears on the following point: is non-violence feasible, even in a positive and demanding movement such as Action for Justice and Peace?

We are united in our aim: we wish for a more just and human world. You think perhaps that only armed violence will have the power to shake and demolish the inhuman structures which creates slaves. If I joyfully spend the rest of my life, of my power, of my energies in demanding justice, but without hatred, without armed violence, through liberating moral pressure, through truth and love, it is because I am convinced that only love is constructive and strong.