Francis speaks at prayer vigil in St Mary Major Basilica ahead of tomorrow’s 32nd Diocesan World Youth Day. Young people from Panama, host of the next World Youth Day, were present. “The pope will be there," Francis told them. "I don’t know if I'll be there,” he added, “but the pope will be there."
Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis led a prayer vigil in Rome’s St Mary Major Basilica Saturday evening, ahead of tomorrow’s diocesan World Youth Day, on the theme “The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Lk, 1:49).
In his address, the pontiff said that the Church wants to listen to all young people, without exception, but in return wants them to listen to their grandparents, heed their experience, and make their dreams real.
Organised by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Family and Life and the dioceses of Latium (Italy), the vigil saw the presence of young people from Panama, site of the next World Youth Day. “The pope will be there," Francis told them. "I don’t know if I'll be there,” he added, “but the pope will be there."
The Holy Father spoke after Maria Lisa, a young nun, and Pompeo, a young man, both of whom spoke about their own encounter with God. Putting aside his prepared text, Francis said, “We can all dream and we are all united by one thing: the need to love and be loved. For such love, it does not matter who you are or who you belong to, honour, respect . . . The only law that counts, of course, is that of love. So, I am so grateful to the Lord because we can experience all this with these children and brothers and sisters."
Francis then turned to the next Synod on young people, which comes halfway between the WYD in Krakow and that in Panama. "From Krakow to Panama with the Synod in the middle. No young person should feel excluded from this synod. Let's do the Synod for young Catholics . . . but also for young people who belong to the Catholic associations, so that is stronger . . . No.
“The Synod is the Synod for and of all young people! Young people are the protagonists. Is it even for young people who feel agnostics? Yes. Is it even for young people whose faith is lukewarm faith? Yes. Is it even young people who left the Church? Yes. Is it even for young people– I do not know if anyone [is here], but maybe there is someone – who are atheists? Yes. This is the Synod of young people and we all want to listen. Every young person has something to say to others, has something to say to adults, has something to say to priests, nuns, bishops and the pope. All of us need to listen to you!"
The pope noted that many young people today face serious difficulties in their lives, unable to "set off on their journey" because "they are often discarded" by society. "They do not work, do not have an ideal to follow, lack education, lack integration . . . Many young people have to flee, emigrate to other lands . . . Young people today – it’s hard to say this – are often [treated as] waste material. We cannot tolerate this; we must do this Synod to say ‘We young people are here, and we go to Panama', as well as 'We young people are here, on the way! We do not want to be waste material! We have value to give'. When Pompeo was talking, I said he came close twice to becoming waste material, at 8 and at 18. But he made it. He made it."
The pope gave today’s youth a special task, that of "talking to their grandparents". "This is the task that I give you in the name of the Church: speak to your elders. ‘That’s boring they always say, the same thing . . .'. No. Listen to elderly people. Talk to them, ask things. Let them dream and from those dreams take something to go forward, to prophesy and make that prophecy real. This is your mission now; this is the mission that the Church asks from you, now."
"I do not know if I will be in Panama, but the pope will be there. In Panama, the pope will ask you this question: 'Have you talked with elderly people? Have you talked with elderly people? Have you taken their dreams and turned them into a real prophecy?' This is your task. May the Lord bless you. Pray for me, and let us prepare together for the Synod and for Panama."