Pope: At a time of conflict, the WYD is a 'parable' of peace in our time
Francis speaks about his “dear Ukraine", warning against "certain halls" where war “is planned". The pontiff offered his prayers to the victims of natural disasters in Slovenia and Georgia and their families. He expressed a final thought for the presidents of the countries of the Amazon region, reiterating his “commitment to the care of creation and sustainable development”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today resumed his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall, which he had interrupted on 28 June for the traditional July break.
In his address, the pontiff said that while fighting continues in Ukraine and elsewhere, and war “is planned” in “certain halls”, the World Youth Day (WYD) showed everyone that "another way is possible".
His recent apostolic journey to Portugal for the 37th World Youth Day (2-6 August) in Lisbon was a "gift from God", he said, after the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For him, the WYD showed a different world, one “of brothers and sisters, where the flags of all peoples fly together, next to each other, without hatred, without fear, without closing up, without weapons!”
“The message of the young people was clear”, but “will the ‘mighty of the earth’ listen to it”? Amid raging war, like in Ukraine, “The youthful enthusiasm for peace “is a parable for our time.”
Reflecting on the Portuguese meeting, the pope expressed hope that that the world might listen “to this World Youth Day” and see the “beauty of the young, going forward.”
This event, Francis noted, “was not a holiday, a tourist trip, nor even a spiritual event for its own sake. World Youth Day is an encounter with the living Christ through the Church.”
“I prayed for peace because there are so many wars all over the world, so many.” Indeed, he met with "a group of young people" from Ukraine and heard the "stories of pain they carried".
Yet, where there are young people "there is joy" and that is even truer where “young people go to encounter Christ", he said, greeting some young people who, after taking part in WYD in Lisbon, decided to be present at the general audience today in Rome.
The Holy Father also thanked the 25,000 volunteers who made the WYD possible. “Thank you all!” he said. “[M]ay the Lord bless the young people of the world and may he bless the Portuguese people” who, like "the whole of Europe and the whole world", needs "hope, solid and reliable hope" that stems “from the encounter with Christ and from the Gospel.”
“The pandemic, as we well know, had a severe impact on social behaviour: isolation often degenerated into closure, and young people were particularly affected,” Francis explained.
This is why WYD was a "push in the opposite direction", the more so since it took place in beautiful Lisbon, a city overlooking the ocean and a symbol of sea exploration, of the human desire to go beyond and discover new worlds.
In his final reflection, he turned to the Virgin Mary, who, still today a model because "at the most critical moment for her [...] she did not turn inward, but moved by God is love “set out and travelled in haste.”
In his greetings, the pope also mentioned the latest tragic "natural disasters" that struck Slovenia and Georgia, causing "deaths and material destruction." He offered his prayers “to the victims and their families" and all those suffering "from natural disasters". He also thanked all the volunteers and those "who have provided assistance.”
He had a special thought for "young people, seniors, the sick and newlyweds" on this day when the Church celebrates St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, "co-patroness of Europe".
May her testimony move people to engage in “dialogue and brotherhood" against all forms of "violence and discrimination", entrusting to her intercession the "dear people of Ukraine, so that it may find peace again".
Lastly, in his greetings in Portuguese, the pope addressed the leaders of the countries of the Amazon region gathered in Belem, Brazil, offering them his prayers "for the success of the meeting" and reiterating his “commitment to the care of creation and sustainable development."