21 March 2018

A Conversation with Young People from Around the World

Pope Francis: "There is no youth; there are young people with their stories that the Church wants to hear”

“What are you looking for in your life? Say it; it will do us good to listen to you.” Pope Francis addressed these words to the young people from around the world who are participating, at the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae in Rome, in the pre-synod meeting that will conclude on Saturday.

“There is no youth; there are young people with their stories that the Church wants to listen to,” said Francis. “Too often we talk about young people without consulting you. Even the best analysis on the world of the young, although useful, does not replace the necessary face-to-face encounter.” “Someone—he added—may think that it would be easier to keep you ‘at a safe distance,’ and so avoid being provoked by you. But the young people today are asking us for closeness. And it is not enough to exchange a few short messages or share some good pictures. Young people must be taken seriously! It seems to me that we are surrounded by a culture that, while on the one hand idolizing youth and trying to make it last forever, on the other hand, excludes so many young people from being protagonists.” “Often—the Pope emphasized—you are marginalized from public life and find yourself begging for jobs that do not give you any guarantee for tomorrow. Too often you are left alone.”

Among the 300 participants, there are young delegates from all the world’s episcopal conferences, seminarians and novices, representatives of associations and movements, students of Catholic schools and universities, the world of culture, voluntary service, politics and sport, but also young people of other Christian denominations and other religions, as well as some who are disabled or have experienced the drama of prison, trafficking, and drug addiction. The themes that have emerged include the difficulties of founding a family, the wounds caused by one’s parents’ divorce, economic precarity, the lukewarmness of a Church that many people are leaving, uncertainty about the future, the fear of making commitments, and the lack of opportunities.

According to the General Secretary of the Synod Lorenzo Baldisseri, “young people at the same time the focus and the actors of this synodal path, called to listen to their Pastors but also called to speak to their Pastors, to open their hearts to them, in a virtuous circularity which is the very essence of ecclesial synodality.” Therefore, the cardinal announced, “on Sunday, at the end of the Eucharist that will open the celebrations of Holy Week and celebrate the XXXIII World Youth Day, we will have the joy and the honor of giving the Pope the Document that is being elaborated at this pre-synodal meeting, where the young will entrust the desires and hopes of their peers all over the world in view of next October’s Synod.”