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Pope Francis and young people: ten phrases for a new “spring” inside the Church

Ahead of the Synod on young people, to be held in October 2018, we collected “ten phrases” that summarise Pope Francis’ constant attention for those tasked with ushering in a new spring inside the Church

2018 will be the year of the Synod on young people. “To encounter, accompany and care for every young person, without exception” is the prospect of the preparatory document of the second Synod called by Pope Francis after the one on the family, to be held in October 2018, which features a dedicated website.

At a time marked by uncertainty, precariousness, insecurity, Francis constantly seeks – just as a year ago in Krakow – the embrace of the young, to whom he often addresses impromptu remarks. Follow some of the more recent reflections, summarised in “ten phrases.”

The eyes, the mirror, and the armchair

“This impressive history should not tempt you to keep looking back, or in the mirror, or resting comfortably in an armchair! Keep this in mind: don’t keep looking over your shoulder, because you will trip and fall!  Don’t keep looking at yourself in a mirror: so many of us are unsightly, so it is better not even to look!  And don’t rest in an armchair: it will make you put on weight and that won’t help your cholesterol!”. (April 30 2017, address to Italian Catholic Action)

The grandparents, the parish and the oratory

“Speaking with grandparents, playing with friends and going to the parish and the oratory, because, with these three things, you will pray more.” (March 25 2017, pastoral visit to the archdiocese of Milan)

Politics in the noblest sense of the term

“Continue to feel a great sense of responsibility for sowing the good seed of the Gospel in the life of the world, through your charitable work, through your involvement in political life – but please, politics in the noblest sense of the world, politics with a capital P!” (April 30 2017, address to Italian Catholic Action)

“Immersed” in people.

“Following this path means being ‘immersed’ in people, sharing their lives and coming to know their interests and their desires, their deepest longings and their hurts, but also what it is they need from us. This is fundamental, in order to avoid wasting time answering questions that nobody asks.” (April 27 2017, address to Participants in the Congress of the International Forum of Catholic Action)  

The courage to take risks …

“We are on the march, towards the Synod and towards Panama. And this march has its risks, but when young people don’t take risks, they are already old.  We have to take risks. As young people, you have to take a risk in life.  You have to prepare for tomorrow today.  The future is in your hands. In the Synod, the entire Church wants to listen to young people: to what they are thinking, to what they want, to what they criticize and to what they are sorry for.  Everything.  The Church needs lots more springtime, and springtime is the season of the young.” (April 8 2017, prayer vigil in preparation of World Youth Day)

…and to seek the truth

“One of the first acts of courage is to ask yourselves: ‘“Is this normal, or is this not normal?”. The courage to seek the truth. Is it normal that every day that sense of indifference increases? I don’t care what happens to others: indifference with friends, neighbours, in our neighbourhood, at work, in school… Is it normal that many of our peers, migrants or from distant, difficult countries, bloodied by selfishness that leads to death, that they live in our cities in truly difficult situations? Is this normal? Is it normal that the Mediterranean has become a cemetery? Is this normal? Is it normal that many, many countries – and I am not saying Italy, because Italy is very generous – is it normal that many countries are closing their doors to these people who are wounded and flee from hunger, from war, these exploited people, who come in search of a little security … is it normal? If it is not normal, I must get involved to make sure it doesn’t happen.” (May 27, pastoral visit to Genoa)

There is no future without sacrifices

“The new generations have the right to be able to work towards important goals and the fullness of their destiny, so that, driven by noble ideals, they may find the strength and courage to make in turn the necessary sacrifices to reach the target, to build a future worthy of man, in relationships, in work, in the family and in society.” (June 10 2017, visit to the President of the Italian Republic)

Adolescence is not a pathology

“Adolescence is not a pathology that we must combat. It is a normal, natural part of growing up, of the life of our young people. Where there is life there is movement; where there is movement there are changes, seeking, uncertainty; there is hope, joy and also anguish and desolation.” (June 19 2017, address at the Conference of the Diocese of Rome)

Reaching out to every periphery

“Go forth, reach out to every periphery! Go forth and be Church there, with the strength of the Holy Spirit!” (April 30 2017, address to Italian Catholic Action)

Leaving an imprint

“Like the young woman of Nazareth, you can improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history, your history and that of many others. The Church and society need you. With your plans and with your courage, with your dreams and ideals, walls of stagnation fall and roads open up that lead us to a better, fairer, less cruel and more humane world.” (March 21 2017, video message for the next WYD)

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