Pope Francis, in a recent video conversation with university students from South Asia, emphasized the inherent beauty and value of all individuals.

The dialogue, hosted by Chicago’s Loyola University, was a candid discussion where he touched upon several poignant topics including the distressing trend of “body-shaming.”

Francis revealed a personal anecdote, sharing, “I recall a friend of mine, who was a bit fat, and we would actually mock him, I daresay, bullying him.”

He continued, detailing how an incident led his father to intervene, “When I got home, my father was informed about this and he took me to this schoolmate’s home to apologize.”

The Pope’s message was clear: every individual, regardless of their appearance, has an intrinsic beauty. “Every man, every woman has their own beauty and we really have to learn how to recognize it,” he stated.

In a world dominated by digital images and social media, the Pope cautioned against the dangers of “digital manipulation,” which he believes alters our understanding of reality. He expressed concern over young individuals being overly influenced by these manipulated standards of beauty and urged them to seek true harmony and beauty in people.

Quoting Italian actress Anna Magnani, Pope Francis emphasized the beauty of aging gracefully. She once said, “Please don’t retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them.”

Francis urged the youth to embrace humor, stating, “Don’t lose your sense of humour, because humour means mental health.”

He called for mutual respect, dialogue, and understanding amongst all, promoting mental well-being and genuine self-acceptance.

Watch the full dialogue below:

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