Pope Francis: 'The Best Instrument to Evangelize Young People is Other Young People'

Unforgettable Papal Visit Wraps Up in Rio

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On Sunday evening Pope Francis ended his apostolic journey to Brazil and the World Youth Day. Nostalgia gives way to hope for a better future with the seed sown on good soil: the life of young people.

A “seventy-six year-old” youth was able to gather 3,500,000 young people on a beach . He did so not only with his words, but especially with the signs of his humanity and spirituality.

Pope Francis was accompanied by an unusual cold and rain for the city of Rio, but as the diocesan Bishop of Rio de Janeiro aptly said in his farewell address, this atmospheric event is called “creative” rain, because it makes buds bloom and helps the earth to be more fertile.

The return of the sun, of light and of heat this weekend marked, perhaps, that crescendo of interior responses that young people found in prayer, in catechesis, in approach to the sacraments.

This is the fruit of the World Youth Day; this is the meaning of the highly positive outcome, which the Holy See spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, revealed in his last press conference to journalists in the retinue.

In an interview granted to Gerson Camarotti for TV Globo’s Fantastico, the first interview of his pontificate, Pope Francis answered the question about the reason for the decrease of Catholics in Brazil to the advantage of the Evangelicals.

He said that the Church is like a mother and cannot communicate only through written documents. What is necessary is proximity: to embrace, kiss, touch, hug a son or a daughter.

It is what Pope Francis did from the moment he arrived. It is because of this that on Sunday morning a youth exhibited a poster on which he had written: “Pope Francis, I’m an Evangelical, but I love you and I want to listen to you just the same.”

Young people have utopia and this is a good. Utopia is to breathe and look ahead. This is the meaning of going against the current to which the Pope referred many times.

Go, do not be afraid, and  serve is the action, the quality and the objective of one who is called by Christ to make disciples beyond all borders of human and geographic security.

The WYD is a beautiful event, but it’s not enough if, on returning home, they are not evangelizers, living Christians able to transmit their faith to others.

“The Gospel is for everyone, not for some. It’s not only for those who seem closer, more receptive, more welcoming. It’s for everyone,” said Pope Francis.

“The best instrument to evangelize young people is other young people,” that is why he quoted during the homily his glorious brother Joseph Anchieta, the Jesuit Blessed who was sent on mission to Brazil, a Spaniard who was only 19 years old!

When one is with the Lord, one cannot be afraid. In following the Lord, there cannot be reservations.

To serve is the condition proper to one who follows Christ, who came in the midst of men not to be served but to serve.”

If a youth is loved, heard and guided, he spreads youthfulness.

Pope Francis was grateful for this to his Papaboys.

At the end of the apostolic journey in Brazil, that man dressed in white will be missed on the streets of Rio de Janeiro; he will be remembered with saudade (nostalgia), as Archbiship Orani Tempesta said.

Pope Francis who does not hide his premature nostalgia for Rio, so great was his warm reception, will be in turn gratified by the response of young people who, as the very first fruits of the WYD, will make of Campus Fidei at Guaratiba a new quarter for the poor, built with the voluntary resources of young people themselves, in favor of other young people, spouses or family members who are without land, without a home.

The meeting for the next WYD returns to Europe, in the Polish city of Krakow.

Perhaps there also, thanks to Argentine pilgrims, he will be able to drink mate  [Paraguayan tea] at once, with the bombilla and gourd.

In addition to its medicinal properties, mate, the national drink, is a ritual of hospitality, sharing, and fraternity. It is what Pope Francis received; it is what Pope Francis gave in the wonderful city thanks to a youth that is able to astonish.

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Alfonso Maria Bruno

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