Pope Reminds Teens With Special Needs: You Have Treasures to Share

The Holy Father virtually joined young people with disabilities and special needs in his second Google Hangout, sharing jokes, advice and encouragement.

Pope Francis speaks with teens in Google Hangout on Feb. 5.
Pope Francis speaks with teens in Google Hangout on Feb. 5. (photo: Screenshot of Google Hangout via CNA)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis virtually joined seven young people with disabilities and special needs in his second Google Hangout, sharing jokes, advice and encouragement.

“Each one of us has a treasure inside,” the Pope told the young people Feb. 5.

He said that when “we share our own treasure with others, it multiples along with the treasures that come from the others we meet.”

“What I want to say is: Don't hide the treasure that each one of you has. Sometimes we find it right away. Sometimes you have to do a little game of treasure hunt. But once you find it, share it, because when you share it, you receive from others, and it multiplies.”

He encouraged the youth, saying that the witness of their lives “helps all of us to understand that life is a beautiful treasure, but it only makes sense if we give it.”

The seven young people who participated in the hangout session with Pope Francis hail from all corners of the world, including Spain, India, Brazil and the United States.

Among the four participants from Spain were Isabel, 13, who is blind; Bautista, 12, who has autism; and 17-year-olds Alicia and Elvira, who both have Down syndrome.

Other participants included 13-year-old Manosh from India, who is deaf; Pedro from Brazil, who has a congenital malformation; and Isaiah from the United States, who has a type of growth disorder that affects his motor skills.

Each participant had the opportunity to speak spontaneously to the Pope, telling him about themselves and how they use technology to help them with their disabilities.

Pope Francis, in turn, responded to each one personally and spoke briefly after they had all finished about the treasure each one of them possesses.

The conversation included serious advice, but also moments of lighthearted banter.

When asked by Alicia if he liked to take pictures and download them onto his computer, Pope Francis responded with a jest, saying, “To tell you the truth, I'm like a dummy with the machine. I don't know how to work the computer. How embarrassing, eh?”

Isaiah, who joined in from Nebraska, asked the Pope what he does when he faces something difficult. The Pope responded by saying, “First of all, I try not to get angry. (I try) to be calm.”

“Afterward, I try to look for a way to overcome it. And if I can't overcome, I endure it until I see a way of overcoming it,” he said.

“We must never be afraid. We are all capable of overcoming (difficult situations). We only need time to understand, intelligence to look for the way and courage to go forward. But never be afraid.”

The hangout session was organized by the educational foundation Scholas Occurentes during its Feb. 2-5 global congress in Rome.

Scholas was founded by Pope Francis while he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires as an initiative to encourage social integration and the culture of encounter through technology, arts and sports.

With just a few youth involved at its beginning, the foundation now consists of a worldwide network of 400,000 state and religious schools, which are organized by Argentinian school headmasters Enrique Palmeyro and José María del Corral.

Marking the pontiff’s second hangout session since becoming pope, today’s encounter was organized in partnership with Google, Microsoft, IBM and technology development company Globant.

Pope Francis held his first Google Hangout with high-school students last September in order to promote the “Scholas Social” website, which is dedicated to raising funds for educational projects that promote interaction between schools with various social challenges.

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