Pope's Address to Youth of Italian Catholic Action

At 12:15 today, Pope Francis received in audience — in the Hall of the Consistory of the Apostolic Vatican Palace –, a representation of youth of Italian Catholic Action (A.C.R.) for their annual Christmas greetings, and he addressed to them the words of greeting which we translate below.

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Dear Young People, Good Morning!

I thank you for having come to bring me the Christmas greetings of the A.C.R. and of the whole of Italian Catholic Action, which is represented here by adults in charge who have accompanied you. I also wish you, your dear ones, your friends and the whole Association all the best.

The Catholic Action Youth  is a beautiful reality, spread and operating in almost all the dioceses of Italy. I encourage you to be always “living stones” in the Church, united to Jesus. I heard that your journey this year is to have you discover Jesus as a friendly presence in your life. The slogan says it well: “There is no pastime without You.” See, Christmas is in fact the celebration of the presence of God who comes in our midst to save us. Jesus’ birth isn’t a fable! It is a story that really happened, at Bethlehem, two thousand years ago. Faith makes us recognize in that Child, born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God, who for love of us became man.

In the face of the little Jesus we contemplate the face of God, who does not reveal himself in strength, in power, but in the weakness and fragility of a newborn. This Child shows the fidelity and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each one of us. Because of this, we celebrate at Christmas, reliving the same experience of the shepherds of Bethlehem. Together with so many fathers and mothers who toil every day facing similar sacrifices; we celebrate together with the little ones, the sick, the poor.

Thank you young people, Jesus loves you, He wants to be your friend; He wants to be the friend of all young people! Are you convinced? … is it like this! I’m not sure if you are entirely convinced, no? Are you convinced of this or no? [The youth respond: Yes!] Good! If you are convinced of it, you will surely be able to transmit the joy of this friendship everywhere: at home, in the parish, at school, with friends … And with the enemies, with those that do not wish us well? What should be done? Who can tell me? What should be done? Should we make war? [Young man: Pray for them!] Exactly: pray for them! So that Jesus may be near them; to be good to them. This should be done: closeness, to be close. And you will be able to give witness by behaving like true Christians: ready to give a hand to anyone in need. And if that person that does not wish you well needs something, will you give them a hand? You are not sure, no? Yes! Yes! Without judging others, without speak ill. It is awful when people speak ill of others. Is gossip Christian or no? No! Is gossip a prayer? Is gossiping like praying or no? No! Gossiping is a bad thing. Gossiping is a bad thing. It should never be done. And we should begin from now: never gossip; without speaking ill. Go forward this way!

So, have a good journey, always united to Jesus. I entrust you to Our Lady. I bless you together with your families, the teachers, the assistant and all the friends of Catholic Action Youth. Merry Christmas, and pray for me! And now before receiving the blessing let us pray a Hail Mary to Our Lady.

Hail Mary…

[Translation by ZENIT]
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