Pope Francis’ Unscripted Address at Prayer Vigil in Bangui
Central African Republic, November 29, 2015
I greet you with my deepest affection. This young person who has spoken in your name has said that the banana tree is your symbol. The banana is a symbol of life that grows, reproduces and gives its fruit with so much nutritional energy. The banana is resistant; I think this clearly indicates the path that is set out in this difficult moment, of war, hate, division. The path of resistance.
This friend said that some of you want to leave. To flee from challenges is never a solution. Resistance is needed. To have the courage of resistance and of fighting for good. One who escapes doesn’t have the courage to give life.
The banana tree gives life and reproduces and gives more life because it stays in place. Some of you ask me: What can we do? What do we need to do to resist? I’ll give you two or three ideas that can be useful for this resistance.
First of all is prayer, because it is powerful. Prayer overcomes evil. Prayer brings one close to God who is All-Powerful. I ask you, do you pray? Don’t forget this.
Second, work for peace, and peace is not a document that is signed and then put up some place. Peace is made each day. Peace is a craft, a handiwork. It’s made with the hands. Someone could ask me, “Father, how can I be a craftsman of peace?”
Never hate. And if someone does evil, seek to forgive him. Nothing of hate. A lot of forgiveness. The two things go together: nothing of hate, a lot of forgiveness. If you don't have hate in your heart, if you forgive, you will be the victor, because you will be victors in the most difficult battle of life, victors in love. And through love comes peace.
Do you want to be losers or winners in life? Which do you want? (They respond, “Winners!”) You only win on the path of love, on the path of love. And is it possible to love an enemy? Yes. Can one who has done evil be forgiven? Yes. Like this, with love and with forgiveness, you will be victorious. You will be victors in life; love will never leave you defeated.
I wish the best for you. Think of the banana, of resistance when faced with difficulties. To flee, to escape isn’t the solution. You have to be courageous. Do you understand what it means to be courageous? Courageous in forgiveness, courageous in love, courageous in building peace.
Do you agree? Let’s say it together: Courageous in forgiveness, in love, in peace. (The crowd responds).
Dear Central African youth, I am so pleased to meet with you. Today, we have opened this Door, [the Holy Door of the cathedral for the Jubilee of Mercy] it signifies the door of God’s mercy. Trust in God, because he is merciful. He is love. He is able to give us peace. And that’s why I said a bit ago that it is necessary to pray in order to resist, to love, to not hate, to be craftsmen of peace.
Thank you for being here. Now, I will go inside to hear the confessions of some of you. Are your hearts ready to resist? Yes or no? (The crowd responds.)
Are your hearts ready to fight for peace? (The crowd responds.) Are your hearts ready to forgive? (The crowd responds.) Are your hearts ready for reconciliation? (The crowd responds.) Are your hearts ready to love this beautiful homeland? (The crowd responds.) And I go back to the beginning, are your hearts ready to pray?
Now, I ask you as well that you pray for me, so that I can be a good bishop, so that I can be a good Pope. Will you promise me that you’ll pray for me? Now, I give you the blessing, to you and to your families, asking the Lord that he gives you love and peace.
Good night and pray for me!