In his address to his brother bishops of Latin America, Pope Francis reminds them–and us–that there are many competitors for the minds and hearts of young people..
In Latin America, hope has a young face
We often speak of young people and we often hear statistics about ours being the continent of the future. Some point to supposed shortcomings and a lack of motivation on the part of the young, while others eye their value as potential consumers. Others would enlist them in drug trafficking and violence. Pay no attention to these caricatures of young people.
Aware of those who insist on pessimism, the Holy Father continues:
Look them in the eye and seek in them the courage of hope. It is not true that they want to return to the past. Make real room for them in your local Churches, invest time and resources in training them. Offer them incisive and practical educational programs, and demand of them, as fathers demand of their children, that they use their gifts well. Teach them the joy born of living life to the full, and not superficially. Do not be content with the palaver and the proposals found in pastoral plans that never get put into practice.
I see some possible indictments who would choose to interpret the presence of absence of youth to accommodate their own desires and wishes. If we were serious about forming young people–and not just indoctrinating them–we would see the Spirit’s movements in their new initiatives. And that was happening in many good ways in the years immediately following Vatican II.
More on the choice for 2019’s World Youth Day:
I purposely chose Panama, the isthmus of this continent, as the site of the 2019 World Youth Day, which will propose the example of the Virgin Mary, who speaks of herself as a servant and is completely open to all that is asked of her (cf. Lk 1:38). I am certain that in all young people there is hidden an “isthmus”, that in the heart of every young person there is a small strip of land which can serve as a path leading them to a future that God alone knows and holds for them. It is our task us to present the young with lofty ideals and to encourage them to stake their lives on God, in imitation of the openness shown by Our Lady.