During the flight from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis personally greeted the seventy media representatives who accompanied him on the aircraft. On this, his first international apostolic journey for World Youth Day 2013, he expressed his gratitude and, thanking those present, explained the meaning of his journey and his wish to encounter the young and to promote a society able to unite the forces of youth with the experience and wisdom of maturity.
“This first trip is precisely to meet the young, but to find them not isolated from their lives – I would like to find them as part of the social fabric, in society. Because, when we isolate the young, we do a great injustice: we remove their sense of belonging. The young belong – they belong to family, a homeland, a culture, a faith... they belong in this way, and we must not isolate them! But above all, we must not isolate them from the rest of society. They – it is true – are the future of the people, this is true! But not the young alone. They are the future, they have the strength, they are young, they go ahead”.
The Pope then recalled the “other extreme of life, the elderly - they too are the future. A populace has a future if it advances on both sides. … I often think we do injustice to the elderly; we cast them aside as if they had nothing to offer us. They have wisdom, the wisdom of life, the wisdom of history, the wisdom of the homeland, the wisdom of the family, and we need all this”.
The Holy Father emphasised that “the global crisis does not bring good to the young … we run the risk of having a generation that has never had a job, and work brings the personal dignity of earning a living. The young, at this time, are in a situation of crisis. We are somewhat accustomed to this culture of rejection: too often we discard the elderly. But now, also with the young unemployed, the culture of rejection reaches them too. We have to eliminate this habit of rejection!” The Pope concluded by asking that the journalists help him in working for the good of society, for both young and old.