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20140905cnsto0006 webPope Francis video chats with a Salvadoran student in the gang-infested neighborhood of La Campanera, San Salvador, Sept. 4. (CNS photo/ Jose Cabezas, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The wisdom of "It takes a village to raise a child" has been lost as kids are either overprotected by permissive parents or neglected, Pope Francis said.

"The educational partnership has been broken" as families, schools and society are "no longer united together for the child," he said Sept. 4 after holding his first Google Hangout -- a live video conversation -- across five continents with teenagers who belong to the international network of "Scholas occurentes," uniting students of all faiths and cultures.

Parents and teachers used to stick together to teach kids important values, the pope said, recalling when he got into trouble in the fourth grade.

"I wasn't respectful toward the teacher, and the teacher called my mother. My mother came, I stayed in class and the teacher stepped out, then they called for me," he told a group of educators and experts involved with the worldwide Scholas network.

"My mom was really calm. I feared the worst," he said. After getting him to admit to his wrongdoing, his mother told him to apologize to the teacher.

The pope said he apologized and remembered "it was easy and I was happy. But there was an Act 2 when I got home," insinuating stiffer punishment had followed.

However, today, "at least in lots of schools in my country," if a teacher notes a problem with a student, "the next day, the mother and father denounce the teacher," he said.

The family, schools and culture have to work together for the well-being of the child, he said. People have to "rebuild this village in order to educate a child."

All of society also needs to help children and young people who are homeless, exploited, victims of violence or without any prospects, he said.

The pope pointed the blame on today's "culture of disposal" and "the cult of money" for creating and perpetuating adults' apathy to or complicity in the mistreatment of kids.

This is why "it's very important to strengthen bonds: social, family and personal ties" with kids and young adults, and create an environment that helps them approach the world with "trust and serenity."

Otherwise, kids will be "left only with the path of delinquency and addiction," he said.

The pope's comments came at the end of an afternoon encounter to launch scholas.social -- a new social network for students from all over the world to cooperate on environmental and social causes, sport and art initiatives, and charitable activities.

The Scholas initiative was begun in Buenos Aires and supported by its then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who also used to teach high school when he was a young Jesuit priest.

When he became pope, he asked fellow Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, to expand the network's reach and impact.

With a small digital camera and studio lights aimed at him in the Vatican synod hall, the pope took questions from five Scholas members, who were linked in from Australia, Israel, Turkey, South Africa and El Salvador.

The pope urged the young people to build bridges through open and respectful communication, in which they listen carefully to others and exchange experiences, ideas and values.

Sina, a teenage boy in Istanbul, thanked the pope for letting more than schools and students come together, "but also our beliefs and hearts." He then asked the pope if he thought the future was going to get better or worse.

"I don't have a crystal ball like witches do to see the future," the pope answered, adding that what the future will be like is in the hands of today's young people.

The future "is in your heart, it's in your mind and your hands," and if people cultivate constructive thoughts and feeling and do good things, "the future will be better."

He said young people need two things: They need wings to fly and the courage to dream of big things, and they need strong roots and respect for their culture, their heritage and all the wisdom passed down from their elders.

"Today's young people need three key foundations: education, sports and culture, that's why Scholas unites everything," he said.

He urged the teens to speak out against war and injustice, and to stick together like a team, defending each other against "gangs" and other negative influences that only seek to destroy and isolate people.

His last piece of advice, he said, came from Jesus, who often said, "Be not afraid!"

"Don't lose your nerve. Don't be afraid. Keep going. Build bridges of peace. Play as a team and build a better future because, remember, that the future is in your hands."

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.