March 2018, America Magazine
The Catholic Church needs the enthusiasm, daring and hope of young people so that it can preach the Gospel energetically and respond to the questions men and women raise today, Pope Francis told some 300 young adults.
“We need to rediscover in the Lord the strength to get up after failure, to move forward, to strengthen hope for the future,” the pope said March 19, opening a weeklong meeting in preparation for October’s Synod of Bishops.
Most of the young people gathered with the pope at the Legionaries of Christ’s Maria Mater Ecclesia College in Rome were chosen as delegates by their national bishops’ conferences. Others represented a variety of Catholic movements or ministries, including religious life. But the Vatican also invited delegates from other Christian churches, other religions, including Islam, and young people who describe themselves as nonbelievers.
Pope Francis told the young people that they are the ones who can help the church fight “the logic of ‘it’s always been done this way,'” which he described as “a poison, a sweet poison that tranquilizes the heart and leaves you anesthetized so you can’t walk.”
The church and its members must continue to go out, continue asking what God is calling them to and continue finding new ways to respond, the pope said.
Of course, he said, everyone must “keep an eye on the roots” of the church and preserve its essential teachings, but they also must find creative ways to share those teachings and reflect on how the Gospel responds to people’s questions today.
Young people must have “the courage to tell themselves the naked truth” about their hopes and weaknesses, the pope said, and then they must find a wise person — someone patient, “who won’t be frightened by anything” — with whom they can talk through their questions.
Yulian Vendzilovych, a seminarian at Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv, asked the pope how a young priest is to judge which parts of modern culture are good and which are not. He used the example of tattoos, which many young people believe “express true beauty,” he said.
“Don’t be afraid of tattoos,” the pope responded.