Thousands of Argentinian youth in Rio for World Youth Day met with the Holy Father yesterday afternoon. Pope Francis had personally requested that his schedule be rearranged to have a moment to meet with them. The meeting was held in the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.
The Holy Father began his address by expressing his hope that the World Youth Day would bring about a “mess” in their dioceses, a term he used to describe a call to action in announcing the Gospel.
“I want people to go out!” he explained. “I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in in ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out! If they don’t go out, they become NGOs, and the Church can’t be an NGO.”
The 76 year old Pontiff went on to speak of the rising exclusion of both young people and the elderly, or as he described as “the two poles of life.” The elderly are often uncared for and unheard in today’s society, while the youth are excluded from having a stable employment.
“The percentage that exists of young people without work, unemployed, is very high,” the Pope said. “And it is a generation that doesn’t have the experience of the dignity earned by work. In other words, this civilization has led us to exclude the two extremes that are our future!”
Calling on young people to show their worth and fight for values, the Pope also appealed to the elderly to transmit to us “the wisdom of the Nations.”
“I ask this from my heart of the elderly: do not shirk your duty to be the cultural reserve of our people, which transmits justice, which transmits history, which transmits values, which transmits the memory of the Nation.” Pope Francis also invited the youth to not shun the elderly, but to listen and learn from them.
The Scandal of the Cross
Pope Francis appealed to those present to take Jesus Christ seriously in front of the “scandal of the Cross.”
“That God came to make Himself one of us is a scandal! And that He died on the Cross is a scandal, the scandal of the Cross. The Cross continues to be a scandal, but the Cross is the only sure way, Jesus is the only sure way, Jesus’ Incarnation!” the Pope said.
The Holy Father continued his address, calling on the youth to not live a watered-down faith, but to have it in its purest form: the faith that the Son of God was made man and that He loved us and died for our sins.
The Holy concluded his address by reiterating his call to not allow the exclusion of both young and old in the fabric of society.
Regarding the Pope’s meeting with the youth, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi stated that the Holy Father’s message is a “classic example” of the Pope’s missionary zeal in announcing the Good News.