Pope Francis sent a message of encouragement to those attending the seventh Asia Youth Day, August 2-6, 2017, in Yogyakarta (Indonesia). The message was sent August 6 by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on behalf of the Holy Father.
“He prays that young people from across Asia will listen ever more attentively to God’s call and respond with faith and courage to their vocation,” Cardinal Parolin wrote on the Pope’s behalf. “As they prepare for the next World Youth Day, His Holiness invites them to look to the Mother of the Lord as a model of missionary discipleship, to speak to her as they would to a mother, and to trust always in her loving intercession.”
The message to Asian youth echoed the Pope’s March 21, 2017, message to young people preparing for World Youth Day in Panama on 22-27 January 2019:
“Dear young people, God is also watching over you and calling you, and when God does so, he is looking at all the love you are able to offer. Like the young woman of Nazareth, you can improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history ‒ your history and that of many others. The Church and society need you. With your plans and with your courage, with your dreams and ideals, walls of stagnation fall and roads open up that lead us to a better, fairer, less cruel and more humane world.”
More than 2000 young people from 22 nations participated in this year’s Asian Youth Day. Included were 160 Muslim youth representing organizations devoted to inter-religious dialogue. Indonesia is the world largest Muslim nation by population. And while the Catholic population of Asia as a whole is relatively small, the potential for growth is immense.
During the Pope’s 2015 visit to the Philippines, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, said Pope Francis had confirmed to him that “the future of the Church is in Asia.”
“It is not a matter of honor. Is it a challenge, a prophecy or a great calling? We do not know. But it is surely a matter of great responsibility, a great mission,” the cardinal said.