Pope Francis on Saturday expressed confidence that young people will provide the missionary dynamism for the Church’s evangelizing thrust in today’s fast changing, globalized and greatly interconnected world, saying they are not just the future but also the Church’s present.
His remarks came in a prepared address to a festive rally in the Vatican that brought together some 7,000 young people from various parts of the world and the Synod Fathers who are participating in the October 3-28 Synod of Bishops on the theme , “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”
The Church goes out with the young
“The Church, therefore, does not go out ‘to’ the new generations, but goes out ‘with’ the new generations, and the Synod is the fruit of a work in which you have been and are protagonists,” the Pope said.
Saturday’s rally entitled “Noi Per. Unici, Solidali, Creativi”- meaning young people for uniqueness, solidarity and creativity – was a variety programme that included singing, dancing, music, performances, testimonies from young people from around the world and their questions to the Pope on some of the burning issues that they are faced with.
The Pope said the contribution of the young people will be used by the Synod Fathers in their work in order to continue the dialogue with them.
Daniel Zaccaro, a 25 year old Italian from a poor, crime-ridden neighbourhood of Milan narrated how he sank into crime, landing in prison at the age of 18. But good souls helped him come out of the dark tunnel and today he is in university.
Another young man from Iraq, Aziz Sadeq, narrated how in just one day, without warning, he lost his home, friends, family and dreams when terrorists invaded his village. He was 18. After two months of despair in exile, France welcomed his parents, where Sadeq has managed to rebuilt his life. He has graduated from high school and is in the university today.
Pope Francis said he was moved by their “personal stories, imbued with passion and pain, animated by desires, solicited by aspirations, marked by falls but also by the desire to rise again, to face the challenges of life in a positive way and to run towards the most beautiful goals.”
The Pope said they have experienced first-hand the illusions of contemporary man, who believes he can dominate the world and at times does not realize that he is in turn dominated by idols such as money, power and pleasure, that sow injustice and corruption. “But the most touching thing in your stories,” the Pope said, “is the discovery that another life is possible.” “Jesus does not leave us alone in our adventure, especially in moments that put us to the test.”
Pope Francis said he was also struck by their questions which expressed their desire to become protagonists of change and to participate fully in the mission of the Church.
And the first way to be protagonists and to participate, the Pope pointed out, is precisely to ask questions, because they come from that attitude of seeking that is typical of young people, a search that does not want to stop at theory but to arrive at practice, choice of life and behavior. Rather than “why”, they should rather ask “how” to solve problems, the Pope added.