During the Angelus Pope Francis met almost 100,000 young Italians who came to Rome on pilgrimage. “[I]t is necessary to live coherently with the promises of Baptism, renewed in Confirmation, not with hypocrisy: these promises have two aspects: renunciation of evil and attachment to goodness,” he said. “It is good not to do evil, but it is evil not to do good". The pontiff singled out priests and nuns to thank them for their patience with young people. He blessed the images of Our Lady of Loreto and the San Damiano Cross that were handed over to a delegation from Panama, site of the next World Youth Day.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis greeted almost 100,000 young people gathered in St Peter's Square and along the Via della Conciliazione, who arrived yesterday on pilgrimage from many Italian cities to meet him.
In his address, the pontiff told them, "Dear young people, you have walked a lot these days! Therefore, you had a workout and I can tell you: walk in charity! Walk in love! Let's walk together towards the next Synod of Bishops whose theme is 'Young people, the faith and vocational discernment'.”
Half an hour before the Angelus at noon, as the pope-mobile slowly drove around the square, Pope Francis mingled with the crowd greeting people, kissing children and newborns, receiving hats and t-shirts from the multicoloured crowd.
Francis had already met them yesterday at the Circus Maximus, where young people had arrived after a pilgrimage on foot. Many of them stayed behind for a vigil in St Peter's Square. This morning everyone participated in the Mass in the parvis of St Peter’s Basilica, led by Card Gualtiero Bassetti, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Italy.
When Francis arrived in the parvis, Card Bassetti addressed his greetings and the thanks of the Italian Church.
At the start of his address, Francis spoke about the passage in the Epistle to the Ephesians from today's Mass (19th year, B, Ephesians 4:30-5:2), in which Saint Paul exhorts his Christians to "not grieve the holy Spirit of God".
"But I ask myself: how does the Holy Spirit become sad? We have all received it in Baptism and Confirmation, so in order not to make the Holy Spirit grieve, it is necessary to live coherently with the promises of Baptism, renewed in Confirmation, not with hypocrisy: these promises have two aspects: renunciation of evil and attachment to goodness. To renounce evil means to say "no" to temptations, to sin, to Satan. More concretely, it means saying "no" to a culture of death, which manifests itself in the flight from the real towards a false happiness that is expressed in lies, fraud, injustice, in contempt for others."
"To all this must be said: no". Extemporising a dialogue with young people, he said: "What do you say to all this?". The crowd: “No!" What? I can’t hear [you]": (an even louder) “no” followed.
"It is not enough not to do evil to be a good Christian; it is necessary to attach oneself to goodness and do good ... Many times, we hear some people who say: 'I do not hurt anyone'. And that person believes they are a saint. All right, but are you good? How many people do not hurt, but neither do they do good, and their life goes on amidst indifference, apathy, lukewarmness. This attitude is contrary to the Gospel, and it is also contrary to the character of you, young people, who are by nature dynamic, passionate and courageous."
The pope again strongly emphasised this point citing Saint Albert Hurtado: "Remember this and repeat it: It is good not to do evil, but it is evil not to do good". He then asked the young people to repeat it.
"Today,” he went on to say, “I urge you to be main players in [doing] goodness! Do not feel good when you do not do evil; everyone is guilty of the good they could have done and did not do. It is not enough not to hate, it is necessary to forgive; it is not enough not to have a grudge, we must pray for our enemies; it is not enough not to be a cause of division, we must bring peace where it does not exist; it is not enough not to speak evil about others, we must stop [others] when we hear them talk evil. Stop the chatter. If we do not oppose evil, we tacitly nurture it. It is necessary to intervene where evil spreads because evil spreads where there are no daring Christians who oppose it with goodness, ‘liv[ing] in love' (cf. Ephesians, 5:2) as it were, heeding the warning of Saint Paul.
“Dear young people, you have walked a lot these days! Therefore, you had a workout and I can tell you: walk in charity! Walk in love! Let's walk together towards the next Synod of Bishops whose theme is 'Young people, the faith and vocational discernment'. May the Virgin Mary sustain us with her maternal intercession, so that each of us, every day, through [our] deeds, can say 'no' to evil and 'yes' to good."
After the Marian prayer, Francis thanked Card Bassetti and the Italian bishops. He also singled out with special greetings "the priests" and "the nuns" who live "every day" with the young, with love and "patience" ("because it takes a lot of patience to work with you", Francis said jokingly).
In greeting young people, the pontiff added: "As you go back to your communities, bear witness before your peers and all those you meet of the joy of brotherhood and communion that you have experienced during these days of pilgrimage and prayer".
In concluding, the Holy Father blessed the images of Our Lady of Loreto and the San Damiano Cross, which young Italians handed over to a delegation from Panama, as a sign of unity with the Church that will host the next World Youth Day (22-27 January 2019).