Miami (AsiaNews) - That Pope Francis's first trip outside of Italy is to World Youth Day in Brazil is a sign that gives meaning and value to all the dreams and hopes of young people in Latin America and around the world.
The start of the trip, reported by several US TV networks, something that does not happen often, brings back memories and thoughts. The first of these, inevitably, is Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998, a trip that brought so much hope to Cuba. Secondly, it is touching to see this man's great simplicity, carrying his own luggage on the plane, stopping to talk with the flight attendants, like any passenger! This man will speak of love to millions of young people!
I think this trip, and this pope, will change many things among the world's youth. They need to see a pope up front, close to their needs, their problems-someone who understands their dreams, and most importantly, who can accompany them through life. Only this and no other way will young people seek out and encounter the Church, and thus find Jesus. For those who do not know Christ, this humble pope will be a credible voice that traces the path to follow, a reference for a new life and a new vision of the world today.
Young people, at least in the country where I live, are distant from Jesus, and very far from the Church. Quite far! But the pope, from the beginning of his pontificate, with his gestures of humility, has attracted young people, including atheists and those who are estranged from the Church.
I have experienced this firsthand. Some of the people I work with are atheists, and I saw them wonder about Pope Francis's humble gestures, telling me about them, even commenting on things that they would never have mentioned had they not seen such signs of humility and love for all, without distinction.
The Pope's trip to Brazil to be with the youth of the world and meeting of everyone around him is a very clear statement, a cry to the world to believe, to follow and to love Jesus; that they may follow him loving the Church. It is a chant of hope and clear renewal, very much needed in today's world.
The world and the Americas need this. They need-at least I need it badly-to see millions of young people gathered to celebrate life and God's love for man today. Thus, these days, images of pain and war will not be the only ones to reach us.
Many more pictures will come our way: smiling faces, hugs, millions of young people full of life around a humble man who speaks to us of a humble God, who only wants us to love one another. To know that human strength and dignity lie in this will, for sure, help us live better, filled with hope.