Pope's Address to Young People of Abruzzo and Molise

“He does not take away autonomy or freedom; on the contrary, he strengthens us in our fragility, allowing us to be truly free, free to do good, strong to continue doing so, able to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.”

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Pope Francis this afternoon addressed young people from the diocese of Abruzzo-Molise in the forecourt of the Shrine of Castelpetroso. 

Here below is his address:


Dear Young People, good afternoon,

I thank you for your numerous and joyful presence. I thank Archbishop Peter Santoro for his service to youth ministry; and thanks to you, Sarah [a youth ministry delegate], you’ve been at the forefront of the hopes and concerns of young people of Abruzzo and Molise.

The enthusiasm and the festive atmosphere that you know how to create are contagious. You are open to hope and full of enthusiasm to give meaning to your future, your whole life, to catch a glimpse of the path suitable for each of you and choose the path that brings you peace and human fulfillment.

On the one hand, you are looking for what really matters, which remains stable over time and is definitive, looking for answers that enlighten your mind and warm your heart, not only in the space of a morning or a short stretch of road, but forever. On the other hand, there’s the strong fear of failure, fear to get involved in things too, the temptation to always leave open a small escape route, which can always open new scenarios and possibilities.

Contemporary society and its prevailing cultural models – the “culture of the provisional” – do not provide a climate conducive to the formation of stable life choices with solid bonds, built on the rock of love and responsibility rather than on the sand of emotion. The desire for individual autonomy is pushed to the point of always putting everything into question and breaking with relative ease important choices and lengthy reflections, life paths freely undertaken with commitment and dedication. This feeds superficiality in taking responsibility, because in the depths of the soul they risk being regarded as something from which we can still be free.

However, dear young people, the heart of the human being aspires to great things, to important values​​, to deep friendships, to bonds that are strengthened in the trials of life rather than broken. The human being aspires to love and to be loved, definitively. The culture of the provisional enhances our freedom, but deprives us of our true destiny, of the most genuine and authentic kind. Do not let yourselves be robbed of the desire to build great and solid things in your life! Do not settle for smaller goals! Aspire to happiness, take courage, the courage to come out of yourself and play out your future in fullness, together with Jesus.

Alone we cannot do it. Faced with the pressure of events and fashions, we will not be able to find the right path, and even if we could find it, we would not have enough strength to persevere, to deal with the climbs and unforeseen obstacles. And here comes the invitation of the Lord Jesus: “If you want … follow me.” He invites us to accompany us on the journey. Only with Jesus, praying and following him will we find clarity of vision and the strength to carry on. He loves us, definitively, he has chosen us definitively, he has given himself to each of us definitively. He is our defender and brother and will be our only judge. How nice to be able to face the vicissitudes of life in the company of Jesus, to have with us his person and his message! He does not take away autonomy or freedom; on the contrary, he strengthens us in our fragility, allowing us to be truly free, free to do good, strong to continue doing so, able to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.

God never gets tired of forgiving. He forgives definitively, cancelling and forgetting our sin if we turn to Him with humility and trust. He helps us not to be discouraged by difficulties, not consider them insurmountable; and then, trusting in Him, will throw again the nets for an  amazing and plentiful catch. He helps us to have courage and hope even in dealing with the difficulties resulting from the effects of the economic crisis. Courage and hope are gifts given to all but are especially suited to young people. The future is in the hands of God, and Jesus, the Only Begotten Son, assuring us that they are the hands of a provident Father. This is not to deny difficulties and problems, but to see them, yes, as temporary and surmountable. The difficulties, the crises, with the help of God and the good will of all can be overcome, won, transformed.

We are gathered in front of the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, erected in the place where in 1888 two girls of this land, Fabiana and Serafina, had a vision of the Mother of God as they worked in the fields. Mary always helps us when we work and when we are in search of work, when we have clear ideas and when we are confused, when prayer comes spontaneously and when the heart is dry. Mary is the Mother of God, our Mother, and Mother of the Church. Many men and women, young and old have turned to you to say thank you and supplicate a favor. Mary leads us to Jesus, our peace. We have recourse to you, trusting in his help, with courage and hope. May the Lord bless each of you and your family.

Thank you.

[Original text: Italian] [Working translation by ZENIT; unscripted comments to be added later]
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