On Saturday, Pope Francis received in audience – in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace --, the members of the International Catholic Association at the Service of Youth (ACISJF), on the occasion of their General Assembly.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s address, in the course of the audience, to those present.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I welcome you, members of the International Catholic Association of Services for Feminine Youth, on the occasion of your General Assembly. You thus intend to rediscover in these places the impulse that was at the origin of your Association, with the support of my Predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, and to manifest today your fidelity to the Successor of Peter.
I express my gratitude for your generous commitment at the service of the young that live in situations of precariousness and suffering. Their numbers are growing and the many forms of poverty that touch them challenge us and must inspire a new creativity, to offer them the material and spiritual support of which they are in need. Yes, it is a real happiness to serve others, like Jesus. Through permanent activities of hospitality -- how much need of hospitality these young people have, how much need of hospitality! – and also through a reflection to address the new challenges generated by today’s world, such as the migratory phenomenon, your action intends to be at the service of the life and dignity of the person, witnessing that “genuine faith in the Son of God made flesh is inseparable from the gift of self, ... from service” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 88). The young people that you accompany are in need, first of all, of attention and of being heard. That so human and so divine “apostolate of the ear” tires, it is tiring, but it does so much good! They are in need of this. So you are able to help them to grow in trust, to find points of reference and to progress in human and spiritual maturity, nourished by evangelical values. In your relations with them you can be credible witnesses; so that they have the experience of the joy of knowing themselves loved by God, their Father, and called to happiness!
And, at the same time, I invite you to let yourselves be instructed by these young people at whose side you are and whom you help. In their difficulties, they also often witness those essential virtues that are fraternity and solidarity. They remind us, moreover, that we are fragile and that we depend on God and on others. May the Father’s merciful gaze touch you and help you to accept our poverties to go forward with confidence, and to be committed together in that “revolution of tenderness,” – this is the challenge for you: to make the revolution of tenderness. Jesus opened the way for us of this revolution through his Incarnation. It is good to be his missionary disciples, to console, enlighten, alleviate, listen, liberate and support. The experience He has given us through his Resurrection is a vital force that penetrates the world (Cf. Ibid., 276) and on which you can lean every day, because it responds to the most profound aspirations of the heart.
Dear friends, I hope that the sentiment of belonging to the Church, which is a great family, will grow in you. I invite you to continue to proclaim to all the joy of the Gospel, taking into consideration the diversity of cultures, of religious traditions, as well as the riches that demand being heard with respect. May fraternity be affirmed among you, to bring to a good end with enthusiasm your mission at the service of little ones, for whom Jesus has a love of predilection!
I entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and I ask God to fill you with his blessings, as well as the young people you receive and their families. And I ask you, please, to pray for me.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]