ROME — “When people work together looking for each other’s good, the world reveals itself in all its beauty,” Pope Francis said to a group of young people on Monday. “I ask you, therefore, not to let the world be ruined by those without scruples, who only think about exploiting it and destroying it.”
Francis sent his message to the Canadian National Youth Forum, organized by Salt + Light Media, and which was televised across the country. The 90-minute program was taped Oct. 10 in Toronto and hosted by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and Salt and Light’s founding CEO, Father Thomas Rosica.
In his message, the pope urged the youth to “flood the places where you live” with enthusiasm, and to “irrigate the world and history with the joy that comes from the Gospel, from having met a person: Jesus.”
The program was taped in preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops titled, “Young people, faith and vocational discernment,” which will take place in Rome next October. Ahead of the synod, Francis has invited young people from around the world to answer a questionnaire [available until Nov. 30] and has also invited them to come to Rome in March, though it’s still unclear the shape this gathering will take.
The world and the Church, Francis said in his message, need courageous young people, who don’t back down in the face of difficulties, who face their challenges while keeping their eyes open to reality, “so that no one should be rejected or subjected to injustice or to violence, or deprived of human dignity.”
He continued saying that he’s convinced their young hearts won’t be closed to the “cry of help” of their peers who “seek freedom, work, study, a chance to make sense of their lives.”
Francis said he was counting on their commitment and ability to face these challenges.
“Young people, let Christ reach you,” Francis said. “Let Him speak to you, embrace you, console you, heal your wounds, dissolve your doubts and fears – and you shall be ready for the fascinating adventure of life, that precious and inestimable gift that God places every day in your hands.”
The Canadian youth forum, the first ever to take place in Canada, featured audiences of young people in Vancouver, British Columbia; Calgary, Alberta; Windsor, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; Montreal and Québec City in the Province of Quebec. Young people in each audience represented the world of senior high school and university students and young adults from many different walks of life and professions including candidates for consecrated life and ordained ministry.
“It’s your moment; it’s your time,” Farrell told participants. “The whole Church is saying to you, the pope is saying to you: Don’t allow the world to control you; you control the world.”
When it comes to evangelizing, Farrell said young people themselves should consider how they can reach out to their peers, pointing towards social media as an area where young people can be more effective than what he called “the elders” of the Church: “If Saint Paul were around today, where would he be? He’d be an expert on [Twitter’s] 140 characters. And that’s where you should be,” he said.
“The Holy Father wants us to change the world,” the cardinal said. “Make a difference. Don’t let the world control you; don’t let it drag you down. But you tell us how we can help you to improve it and to make it better.”
Farrell also reminded youth across Canada that the 2018 Synod of Bishops will be an extension of the synods in 2014 and 2015. During those meetings, bishops addressed the challenges of modern family life. Those discussions led to the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, that urges priests and ministers to reflect on how they provide pastoral care to families.
The prelate also praised the Salt +Light initiative for it’s ability to raise the voices of young people across Canada. Introducing Francis’s video message, Farrell said “When has he ever said no to speaking with young people?
“When he speaks to us about Jesus, we can almost sense the presence of God,” Farrell said. “I do believe that what the Holy Father is asking us is to open up our hearts to Christ. He’s telling us ‘Come and see.’
“Perhaps we’ve been in the Church, perhaps we follow more or less what goes on in our own spiritual life. Now it’s a question, you need to come and see, because I want you to change the world that we’re living in.”