Tokyo (EFE) .- The pope celebrated human diversity Monday in Japan and asked that it be embraced to live together in peace and harmony, as people were all made differently.

Pope Francis said during his visit to Tokyo Cathedral that it rested on the younger generation’s shoulders to make the co-existence between people harmonious.

“Cultural encounters are possible, they are not a utopia, and you, the young people, have that special sensitivity to carry them forward,” the pope said at the cathedral during his official visit to Japan, which began Saturday and ends Tuesday.

Francis met about 1,000 young people gathered at the cathedral and dozens of others who could not enter the enclosure, whom he received outside the most symbolic structure of the Catholic Church in Japan.

In a dialog between the pontiff and the youth, the Pope heard the concerns of three of them, Leonard Kathuela, 20, Miki Kobayashi and Masako Kudo, both 26.

“I can see the cultural and religious diversity of young people living in Japan today, and some of the beauty that our generation offers to the future,” Francis said.

Only 0.34 percent of the Japanese population professes Catholicism, with many of those following the religion being expatriates.

The pontiff, received at the entrance of the cathedral complex amid “Long live the Pope!” chants, addressed the young from the Saint Mary’s Cathedral altar, a modern structure built in 1960 on the ashes of an 1899 one destroyed by World War II bombs.

Another meeting was also held between young people and late Pope John Paul II in the cathedral 38 years ago, which to date had been the only visit by a pope to Japan.

“The future is not monochrome, it is possible to look at it in the variety and diversity of what each of us can contribute,” Francis added.

“We weren’t all made by machines [.] Each brings a story to share,” he said, in one of the many improvised parts of his message, which was also occasionally applauded.

“Our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace without all having to be the same,” the pope said to the young, some of whom were waving paper flags in Vatican colors.

He asked young people to combat “spiritual poverty” in the midst of a “frantic society focused only on being competitive and productive.”

He also regretted that people in highly developed societies can lead “a poor and shriveled inner life, with dim souls and vitalities.”

“Like zombies, your hearts stopped beating because of the inability to celebrate life with others,” he added. “There are young people who do not dream. It’s terrible that there are young people who don’t dream,” he insisted.

To Masako, another young woman who addressed the Pope, Francis spoke of the need to discover her own identity to grow.

“Many things have been invented, but thank God there are still no selfies of the soul,” the pope said. “To be happy, we need to ask others for help, to have the photo taken by others.” EFE

© 2019 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.

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