Francis met the victims of the "triple disaster", as it is known in Japan referring to the earthquake, the tsunami and the 2011 nuclear accident. To young people, "things are important, but people are indispensable". "We must all unite against this culture of bullying and learn to say: enough! It is an epidemic you must find the medicine for it yourself ".
Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Solidarity with those who were victims of the tsunami in Fukushima, with immigrants and those who for physical reasons "are not perfect", with those suffering from bullying and all those who are marginalized by the consumer society.
Solidarity towards every form of life, which must also lead to a rethinking of the use of nuclear energy, was the theme of the numerous meetings that marked Pope Francis’ morning in Japan.
In Tokyo today first he met with the victims of the "triple disaster", then the young people and also visited the emperor Naruhito.
The first call to solidarity came from the meeting with the victims of the "triple disaster" (in the photo), as it is known in Japan referring to the earthquake, the tsunami and the 2011 nuclear accident of 11 March 2011 that caused the death of over 18 thousand people and created 470,000 displaced persons, 50,000 of whom are still homeless.
A silent prayer "that unites us and gives us the courage to look forward with hope" marked the meeting in the auditorium of Bellesalle Hanzomon, the Tokyo convention center, where more than 800 victims of that disaster were gathered. The meeting caused Francis to reflect on the need to rethink the use of nuclear energy also for civil purposes, choosing "a humble and austere lifestyle".
Francis greeted 10 victims gathered on the stage with him and listened to three testimonies. The first is from Toshiro Kato, director of a Catholic kindergarten in Miyako, the city hit by record waves, which also destroyed the dam built around the city as a barrier to stop the waves. I understood, he said "that human beings cannot overcome nature and that its power and wisdom is necessary to us".
After the testimonies, the Pope thanked all those who are committed to helping "the people affected with prayer and material and financial assistance" and asked that the action be prolonged and sustained, because "some of those who lived in the affected areas now feel forgotten by others, and many must face ongoing problems: contaminated land and forests and the long-term effects of radiation ".
"Eight years after the triple disaster - he said - Japan has shown how a people can unite in solidarity, patience, perseverance and resilience. The path to a full recovery may still be long, but it can always be undertaken if it counts on the spirit of people capable of mobilizing in order to help one another". The reconstruction, he added, "requires to experience the solidarity and support of a community", because "no one" rebuilds "by himself"; no one can start all over again ". It is essential "to find a friendly hand, a fraternal hand".
For the victims of Fukushima, " In addition to scientific or medical concerns, there is also the immense challenge of restoring the fabric of society. Until social bonds in local communities are re-established, and people can once more enjoy safe and stable lives, the Fukushima accident will not be fully resolved. In turn, this involves, as my brother bishops in Japan have emphasized, concern about the continuing use of nuclear power; for this reason, they have called for the abolition of nuclear power plants.". Because technological progress cannot be "the measure of human progress".
With the " The wisdom and experience of elders, united to the zeal and enthusiasm of young people, can help to forge a different vision, one that fosters reverence for the gift of life and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the one multiethnic and multicultural human family”.
Because it is possible to build a future based on the culture of fraternity. It is the message that Francis addressed to almost a thousand young people who welcomed him in the cathedral of Santa Maria, where the Pope went after having made a private visit to the emperor Naruhito, at 11 am, local time (2 GMT ).
In the meeting with the young people too there were testimonies and also the gift of a kimono.
In a strongly competitive society like the Japanese one, the danger, said Francis, is the extinction of vitality and the appearance of bullying. "How many people in the world are materially rich, but live as slaves of unparalleled loneliness! I think of the loneliness that so many people, young and adults, experience in our societies prosperous, but often so anonymous ”. "Mother Teresa, who worked among the poorest of the poor, once said something prophetic:" Loneliness and the feeling of not being loved is the most terrible poverty ".
"Things - he continued - are important, but people are indispensable; without them we dehumanize ourselves, we lose the face, the name and we become an extra object, perhaps the best of all, but always an object ".
Taking inspiration, then from the experience of a young man, Leonardo, who had told of being a victim of bullying, Francis said that "the most cruel thing about school bullying is that it hurts our spirit and our self-esteem when we are in need of the strength to accept ourselves and face new challenges in life ”.
“Paradoxically, however, bullies are the really weak ones, because they think they can affirm their identity by harming others. Sometimes they attack anyone they consider different or perceive as a threat. After all, the bullies are afraid, they are fearful and they cover themselves with their apparent strength. We must all unite against this culture of bullying and learn to say: enough! It is an epidemic for which the best medicine can be found yourself. It is not enough that educational institutions or adults use all the resources at their disposal to prevent this tragedy, but it is necessary that among you, among friends and companions, you get together to say: No! This is bad! There is no bigger weapon to defend oneself from these actions than to "stand up" among friends and say: "What you are doing is a serious thing." Fear is always the enemy of good."
"Testify that social friendship, friendship between you is possible! Hope in a future based on the culture of encounter, friendship, acceptance, fraternity and respect for the dignity of each person, especially towards those most in need of love and understanding. Without the need to attack or despise, but learning to recognize the wealth of others ".
"Fear is always the enemy of good, because it is the enemy of love and peace. The great religions teach tolerance, harmony and mercy; they do not teach fear, division and conflict. Jesus always told his followers not to be afraid. Why? Because if we love God and our brothers and sisters, love drives away fear (see 1 Jn 4:18). For many of us - as you reminded us, Leonardo - looking at the life of Jesus allows us to find comfort, because Jesus himself knew what it means to be despised and rejected, even to the point of being crucified. He also knew what it means to be a foreigner, a migrant, "different". In a sense, Jesus was the most "marginalized", an outcast full of Life to give. Leonardo, we can always look at all that we don’t have, but we can also discover the life that we are able to give and to gift. The world needs you, never forget it; the Lord needs you so that you can give courage to many who today ask for a hand, to help them get up again ".