‘Dare to testify to Christian ideals’

Pope Francis sends a message to young Catholics gathered in London for the 2023 Flame Congress, and urges them to dare to be different as they walk in friendship with Christ.

Mar 17, 2023

File photo of Pope Francis praying with young people (Vatican Media)

By Devin Watkins
Tens of thousands of young Catholics from across England and Wales gathered at the OVO Arena Wembley, in London, for the Fifth CYMFed Flame Congress on March 4.

The event was held 150 days before the 37th World Youth Day—to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, on 1-6 August 2023—under the theme “Rise Up!”, an echo of the WYD Scripture passage: “Mary arose and went with haste”.

Set free by the Gospel
Pope Francis sent his greetings and encouragement to participants in the youth rally on Saturday.

In a message signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope assured the young Catholics of his “spiritual closeness” and prayed that “Almighty God will richly bless their time together”.

He expressed his hopes that “through adoration, music, testimonies, and the sharing of friendship with Christ and with one another, all present will grow strong in faith and love and bear witness courageously to the Gospel message that sets us free.”

Beauty of generosity
The Pope also urged them to hasten to respond to the Lord’s call to follow Him, as did Mary the Mother of God.

“Dare to be different [and] point to ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation, prayer, the pursuit of justice and the common good, love for the poor, and social friendship.”

Pope Francis wrapped up his message by entrusting the young English and Welsh Catholics and their families “to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham” and offered them his “blessing as a pledge of wisdom, joy, and peace in Jesus the Lord.”

Rising up as young Catholics
According to the event’s website, Flame 2023 is an opportunity to “Rise up after the pandemic, Rise up as young Catholics, Rise up—as Mary did—for the surprising and beautiful adventure that is our Catholic faith.”

Guest speakers include Filipino-born Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, and Australian-born Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth.--Vatican News

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