In a video message to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, Pope Francis said Thursday the suffering caused by the coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to change and to have greater solidarity with others.

“The pandemic has marked the lives of people and the history of our communities,” the pope said Feb. 18. “Faced with this and other realities, it is necessary to build tomorrow, look to the future, and for this we need the commitment, strength and dedication of all.”

“It is necessary to act with the style of the Samaritan,” he added, “which implies letting myself be struck by what I see, knowing that suffering will change me, and I must involve myself with the suffering of the other.”

Pope Francis’ video message was played at the opening of the four-day Religious Education Congress, which [took] place in an online format Feb. 18-21.

In his message, Pope Francis greeted those attending and congratulated the congress on its 65th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of a part of the congress known as “youth day.”

These initiatives “have already come a long and fruitful path,” the pope noted.

He also greeted all of the participating youth and young adults, inviting them to hope.

Hope “speaks to us of a reality that is deeply rooted in the human being, regardless of the concrete circumstances and historical conditions in which he lives,” he said. “You young people, be the poets of a new human beauty, a new fraternal and friendly beauty!”

Pointing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Francis said, “there is no doubt that we are in a difficult time for everyone, it is a time of crisis.”

“How pertinent, in this context, is the call of this congress: ‘Proclaim the promise!’ We need to announce and remember that we have God’s promise and that God always keeps his promises,” he stated….

The above comes from a Feb. 18 Catholic News Agency story run in Angelus News.