Pope: WYD flags a sign that counters sad trend of nationalism
At the general audience, Francis retraced the steps of the recent Panama World Youth Day. "As long as there are new generations capable of saying 'here I am' to God, there will be a future for the world". "People held up their children, saying, 'Here is my pride, here is my future!' How much dignity in this gesture, and how eloquent it is for the demographic winter we are living in Europe!
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At the World Youth Day in Panama "all the flags parade together, dancing in the hands of the joyful young people is a prophetic sign, a mark against the current sad trend of conflictual nationalism that raises walls and is closed to universality, to the meeting of peoples. It is a sign that young Christians are a leaven of peace in the world". This is one of the memories of the Pope’s visit to the Central American country shared during the general audience, dedicated to the 34th WYD.
Speaking to seven thousand people present in the Paul VI hall, Francis underlined in particular the "strong Marian imprint" of a Day that had as its theme the words of the Virgin - "we called her the 'influencer of God" - to the Angel: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Lk 1:38). "It was strong to hear these words spoken by the representatives of the youths of the five continents, and above all to see them appear on their faces. As long as there are new generations capable of saying 'here I am' to God, there will be a future for the world ".
He recalled " People held up their children when the popemobile would pass by. It was if they were trying to say: 'This is my pride, this is my future.' They presented their children. There were many of them and the father and mother were proud of their children. I thought how much dignity there is in this gesture and how eloquent it is, especially during the demographic winter we are living in Europe. Demographic winter without kids, it's hard".
"This World Youth Day was preceded by the meeting of the young people of the native and African-American peoples: a beautiful sign, composed of five days of meetings: they opened the door to the Day. It was an important initiative that has shown the multifaceted face of the Church in Latin America even better. Then, with the arrival of groups from all over the world, the great symphony of faces and languages, typical of this event, was formed. Seeing all the flags parade together, dancing in the hands of the joyful young people is a prophetic sign, a mark against the current sad trend of conflictual nationalism that raises walls and is closed to universality, to the meeting of peoples. It is a sign that young Christians are a leaven of peace in the world ".
"Among the stages of the World Youth Day there is always the Way of the Cross. Walking with Mary behind Jesus carrying the cross is the school of Christian life: there you learn patience, silence concrete love ". "I like to do retrace Way of the Cross. I always have a pocket-sized Way of the Cross with me and when I have time I do it".
"In Panama, the young brought to Jesus and Mary the burden of the condition of so many suffering brothers and sisters in Central America and in the whole world. Among these there are many young victims of different forms of slavery and poverty. And in this sense the penitential liturgy that I celebrated in a Rehabilitation home for minors and the visit to the 'Good Samaritan' Family Home, which houses people affected by HIV / AIDS, were very significant moments ".
"The highlight of the WYD and of the journey were the Vigil and Mass with the young. In the Vigil, that field full of young people - they did the vigil, they slept there and in the morning at 8.00 took part in Mass - the vibrant dialogue with all the boys and girls was renewed, enthusiastic and even capable of silence and listening. I proposed Mary to them as the one who, in her smallness, more than any other, has 'influenced' the history of the world: we called her the 'influencer of God'. The beautiful and strong testimonies of some young people were reflected in her ‘fiat’. On Sunday morning, in the great final Eucharistic celebration, the Risen Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, spoke again to the young people of the world calling them to live the Gospel today, because young people are not 'tomorrow', they are not the 'in the meantime', but they are the today of the Church and of the world. And I have appealed to the responsibility of adults, so that new generations do not lack education, work, community and family. And this is key right now in the world, because they are missing".
"The meeting with all the Bishops of Central America was a moment of special consolation for me. Together we let ourselves be taught by the testimony of the holy bishop Oscar Romero, to learn to 'feel with the Church' better - it was his episcopal motto – close to the young, the poor, the priests, the holy faithful people of God " .
"The consecration of the altar of the restored Cathedral of Santa Maria La Antigua, in Panama was of strong symbolic value. It has been closed for seven years for restoration. A sign of rediscovered beauty, for the glory of God and for the faith and the feast of his people. The Chrism which consecrates the altar is the same as the one used for anointing the baptized, the confirmed, priests and bishops. May the family of the Church, in Panama and in the whole world, draw new fruitfulness from the Holy Spirit ever, so that the pilgrimage of the young missionary disciples of Jesus Christ may continue and spread across the earth ".
Finally, in the greeting to the Italians, Francis recalled that "tomorrow we will celebrate the memory of St. John Bosco, father and teacher of the young. He was a good priest. Don Bosco knew how to make God's embrace felt to all the young people he met, offering them hope, a home, a future. His testimony helps us all to consider how important it is to educate the new generations to authentic human and spiritual values ".