Pope Francis recognised Hollywood actors Salma Hayek, George Clooney and Richard Gere for their contribution to the Pontifical Foundation ‘Scholas Occurrentes’ at the conclusion of their World Congress.
Scholas Occurentes is an Argentina-based foundation that brings together schools and educational networks from different cultures and religious backgrounds.
Hayek, Clooney and Gere agreed to be ambassadors for one of the foundation’s arts projects.
During the meeting, a series of initiatives were also presented, including the launch of a campaign against bullying with the hashtag #todossomosunicos as well as an interactive initiative called askpopefrancis.scholasoccurrentes.org .
Pope Francis responds to questions sent by young people from all over the world, without exclusion on the basis of theme, via a digital platform. The questions and his replies will later be published as a book entitled “Chiedete”, the Italian word for ask.
At the same event, Pope Francis received the gift of an olive tree, autographed surfboards and answered questions.
In reply to one of the questions posed to him, Pope Francis said he has never considered abandoning his role due to the burden it comes with.
“No, I have not thought of leaving it due to the responsibility”, he said. “I didn’t think they would have elected me. It came as a surprise to me. But from that moment God gave me a peace that is still with me today. And this leads me on. This is the grace I have received. On the other hand, by nature I am bold, and in this way I continue.”
One girl asked him how to make the world a better place.
“I believe that building a better world can be summarised in the things we have spoken about here together”, he said,”that every person must be acknowledged in their identity. But identity does not exist without belonging. Try to offer a sense of belonging.”
The Pope also spoke on bullying. “As for stopping aggression, bullying is an aggression that hides a profound cruelty, and the world is cruel. … Wars are monuments to cruelty.”
He stressed words are not enough. People communicate with gestures: “a smile, a hug, a pat on the shoulder”; “we must listen to others, ask questions, and dialogue will provide the bridge” he said.