WelCom May 2019:
Pope Francis has urged young people to embrace their role as the present and the future of the Catholic Church by building relationships with their community and with God. His latest apostolic exhortation was signed on 25 March and released 2 April 2019, following last year’s Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.
The exhortation, Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive), is presented as a letter to young people and, through them, to the entire People of God.
In the lengthy document (nearly 35,000 words), the Pope emphasises ‘three great truths that all of us need constantly to keep hearing’, that:
- God loves us;
- Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for our salvation; and
- Jesus is alive today.
Pope Francis writes it is an error to look upon young people as the future of the world. ‘They are its present,’ he insists, ‘even now, they are helping to enrich it.’ He repeats his famous encouragement to young people to ‘make a ruckus’ and exhorts them to be ‘courageous missionaries’ of the Gospel message.
However, the Pontiff cautions against the temptation to ‘build a future without roots, as if the world were just starting now.’ He urges young people to find wisdom in the Church and makes a special plea for them to learn from the elderly. At the same time the Pope warns against clinging to the past of the Church.
‘Let us ask the Lord to free the Church from those who would make her grow old, encase her in the past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill. But let us also ask him to free her from another temptation: that of thinking she is young because she accepts everything the world offers her, thinking that she is renewed because she sets her message aside and acts like everybody else. No! The Church is young when she is herself, when she receives ever anew the strength born of God’s word, the Eucharist, and the daily presence of Christ and the power of his Spirit in our lives.’
In the apostolic exhortation Pope Francis also:
- asks young people to take precautions in their use of the internet, which can be a place of ‘loneliness, manipulation, exploitation and violence;’
- reminds readers that the Church takes special care for ‘those fleeing from war, violence, political or religious persecution, from natural disasters including those caused by climate change, and from extreme poverty;’ and
- repeats his call for an open attitude toward migrants.
Pope Francis concludes his message by telling young people that ‘my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you, outstripping all those who are slow or fearful.’
– Vatican News