Music and applause, percussion, and colorful flags accompanied the arrival in the “Pope-mobile”. Congolese youth flocked with their catechists to a long-awaited meeting that had been postponed since last July. The young people presented their lives, expectations, problems, and their yearning for honesty and goodness to the Pope. "We want peace in the DRC," some of their placards read.
The Pope exhorted those present by addressing them individually, "Young man, from your hands can come the peace that this country lacks." To the fingers of the hand, the Pontiff associates five different ingredients to build a future of peace. Thumb, index, middle, ring and little finger, he suggests, can guide us to identify priorities in the confusion, or chaos: prayer, community, honesty, forgiveness, and service. Five ingredients for building peace and a different future.
To the thumb, the Pope assigns the reference of prayer, which although it may seem an abstract reality, Francis notes, prayer is the most powerful weapon.
Thinking of the index finger, through which we point something to others, the Holy Father emphasizes the importance of community with the invitation to always think of ourselves together to be happy, not to let loneliness and closure ruin youth. Also strong here is the call to choose good and not get swallowed up by the swamp of evil: corruption, drugs, occultism, witchcraft, tribalism, violence, war.
To the middle, central finger, which rises above the others "as if to remind us of something inescapable," the Pope attributes "the fundamental ingredient for a future that lives up to your expectations: honesty! To be a Christian is to bear witness to Christ. Now, the first way to do that is to live righteously, as He wants."
To the ring finger, the finger of faiths, but also the weakest, falls the reminder of forgiveness: "in our frailties, in our crises what is the strength that keeps us going? Forgiveness. Because forgiveness means knowing how to begin again. To forgive is not to forget the past, but not to resign ourselves to the fact that it will happen again. It is to change the course of history. It is to raise up those who have fallen."
Finally, for the little finger, the Pope restates the impetus to service: "The little question you can tie to your finger every day is: Me, what can I do for others? How can I serve the Church, my community, my country?"
In conclusion, the Pontiff encouraged and empowered the young people, "The Democratic Republic of Congo awaits a different future from your hands because the future is in your hands. May your country once again become, thanks to you, a fraternal garden, the heart of peace and freedom in Africa!"