In a message on the Bicentenary of St. John Bosco’s birth, Pope Francis praised the Salesian founder, saying that the heart of his vision was “love in action, reaching out to those in need.”
According to Vatican Radio, the letter was signed on St. John Bosco’s feast day, June 24th and sent to the head of the Salesian order, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime.
“Don Bosco teaches us not to stand on the sidelines but rather to work on the frontlines in offering youth an experience of inclusive education that involves the whole human person,” he wrote.
The Holy Father highlighted that while Italy and Europe have changed significantly in the last 200 years, today’s youth are still “open to life and the encounter with God and with others.” However, the Pope also said that youth continue to face “discouragement, spiritual anemia and marginalization.”
Don Bosco’s example, he continued, stresses the need for “the love of the educator expressed through concrete and efficacious gestures.”
The Saint of Turin’s complete trust in God, he said, “brought him to go out and make courageous decisions: the choice to dedicate himself to poor youth, with the intention of realizing a vast movement of poor people for the poor.”
The 78-year-old Pontiff went on to encourage the Salesian order to continue to accompany youth “in the search for a synthesis between faith, culture and life, at times when decisions are difficult, when trying to interpret a complex reality.”
Concluding his note, Pope Francis called the Salesians to assume the inheritance left by Don Bosco in speaking and acting “with youth and for youth.”