Pope Francis invites young people to ‘joy and authenticity’

Pope Francis welcomed participants of the International Congress of Youth Ministry, organised by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

Jun 07, 2024

The Pope with a participant in the International Congress on Youth Ministry (Vatican Media)

By Delphine Allaire
Pope Francis welcomed participants of the International Congress of Youth Ministry, organised by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. The May 25 event gathered young people and delegates from episcopal conferences, associations, and various ecclesial movements. Malaysia was represented by Karen Chan (Diocese of Malacca Johore) and Roney Alfred (Diocese of Keningau).

Thinking about the Youth Jubilee in July 2025 and the World Youth Day (WYD) in Seoul scheduled for three years later, the Pope expressed his hope that these two universally significant events might “help many of the young, including those who are not ordinarily churchgoers, to encounter Jesus."

While working on these major events, the Pope advised members of youth ministries to be attentive to daily life, to the ministry of “small steps, small numbers, simple words and actions, everyday decisions.”

According to the Pope, who will soon canonize the millennial Carlo Acutis, these less visible experiences deeply touch the heart and bear lasting fruit over time.

“Not to advertise my writings, but read Gaudete et exsultate!”, the Pope added, referring to his 2018 apostolic exhortation on the holiness of everyday life.

The 'treasure' of discernment
The Pope also highlighted spiritual discernment, which he said pastoral workers - priests and religious, catechists, and young people themselves who work with other young people  - must be the first to learn.

“Discernment,” the Pope said, “is an art that cannot be improvised, but must be deepened, experienced, and lived."

“For a young person,” he added, “to find someone capable of discernment is to find a treasure.  In the journey of faith and the discovery of one’s vocation, a wise guide helps avoid many mistakes, much naiveté, many moments of bewilderment and ‘paralysis’.”

Accompaniment: communal and personal
The Pope said that discernment must be synodal, personal, and oriented towards the truth.

It must be synodal, because today individualism prevails, said the Pope. When people categorise everything according to the criteria “I like/I don’t like”, he said, this is “ugly individualism."

"In the practice of discernment, the Church places brothers and sisters in faith alongside us to walk a path together, not alone, and our inner maturation becomes much richer."

At the same time, discernment is personal. "In our world, everything is standardized and homogenized. Young people, however, need to be accompanied one by one. Each one is unique and irreplaceable. Each one deserves to be listened to, understood, and advised according to their age, human and spiritual maturity."

Finally, the Pope reminded his listeners that discernment is oriented towards the truth.

“In a society poisoned by fake news,” the Pope said, “where personal profiles are often tailored or falsified, where people create alternative identities, discernment represents for young people a path to authenticity: a way of emerging from artificial identities and discovering their true identity. Discernment is about being “real”: before oneself, before others, and before God.”

Pope Francis brought his speech to a close by insisting on the importance of continuing to listen to young people.

This should, he said, be “real listening”, not “half-hearted” or merely “window dressing”.  

“Young people should be empowered, involved in dialogue, in planning activities, in decisions,” the Pope stressed. “They should be made to feel that they are an active and full part of the life of the Church.”--Vatican News

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