«Chistus vivit»: Apostolic Exhortation to young people and to the entire people of God

« Christ is alive! ». He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world. If Christ is young, the Church is young too. The Pope asks the Lord to free the Church from those who would make her grow old, encase her in the past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill. The Church is young when she is herself, when she receives ever anew the strength born of God’s word, the Eucharist, and the daily presence of Christ and the power of his Spirit in our lives».

We must not give in to worldliness, and the Church, –spurs the Pope–, must be helped by young people for keeping her young. This means humbly acknowledging that some things concretely need to change, and if that is to happen, she needs to appreciate the vision but also the criticisms of young people. Some even ask expressly to be left alone, as they find the presence of the Church a nuisance, even an irritant. This request does not always stem from uncritical or impulsive contempt. It can also have serious and understandable reasons: sexual and financial scandals; a clergy ill-prepared to engage effectively with the sensitivities of the young; lack of care in homily preparation and the presentation of the word of God; the passive role assigned to the young within the Christian community…

We need to give more importance to women, and here the Pope looks to Mary who with her yes is «the bearer of a promise». Moreover, together with Mary we must look at so many young saints.

Pope Francis invite to put attention to « The ideological colonization » In a world that constantly exalts sexuality, it is necessary to remember that « life is a gift, and that we are creatures with innate limits, open to exploitation by those who wield technological power».

From here, the Pope takes inspiration to talk about «the digital environment». «The digital environment is also one of loneliness, manipulation, exploitation and violence.   New forms of violence are spreading through social media, for example cyberbullying. The internet is also a channel for spreading pornography and the exploitation of persons for sexual purposes or through gambling».

Pope Francis speaks about «migration» as a «structural phenomenon of our time». The Church’s concern is focused especially on those fleeing from war, violence, political or religious persecution, from natural disasters including those caused by climate change, and from extreme poverty.

A passage on the subject of sexual abuses cannot be missed, Francis thanks «those who had the courage to report the evil they experienced» after he thanks God because those who committed these horrible crimes are not the majority of priests, who carry out their ministry with fidelity and generosity. The church is not afraid to reveal the sins of her members. Still, let us never forget that we must not abandon our Mother when she is wounded.

Youth is « the age of choices » the Pope says.  – God’s word asks you to enjoy the present but this is not the same as embarking irresponsibly on a life of dissipation that can only leave us empty and perpetually dissatisfied.  The Pope asks to young people «social engagement and direct contact with the poor»: You are the ones who hold the future! Through you, the future enters into the world. Be protagonists of this transformation. Be courageous missionaries.

Young people must come to terms with their roots, starting by their relationship with the elderly: « The world has never benefited, nor will it ever benefit, from a rupture between generations ».

The Pope then warns against «a spirituality without God, an affectivity without community and without commitment towards those who suffer; a fear of the poor seen as dangerous subjects, and a series of offers that pretend to make you believe in a paradisiacal future that will be always sent further ».

In face to youth ministry, the Pope is clear: young people themselves are agents of youth ministry. Certainly they need to be helped and guided, but at the same time left free to develop new approaches, with creativity and a certain audacity », Youth ministry has to be synodal.  « Along these lines, the Church should provide young people with places they can make their own, where they can come and go freely, feel welcome and readily meet other young people, whether at times of difficulty and frustration, or of joy and celebration..  Room should also be made for «all those who have other visions of life, who belong to other religions or who distance themselves from religion altogether ».

Then the Pope recalls that «Young people intensely feel the call to love; they dream of meeting the right person with whom they can form a family and build a life together».

Then  Pope point to  youth unemployment : This is a highly complex and sensitive issue that politics must make a priority, especially at present, when the speed of technological advances and the concern to reduce labour costs can lead quickly to the replacement of many jobs by machines.

Finally, the discussion on the importance of discernment. For Francesco «a particular form of discernment involves the effort to discover our own vocation». Since this is a very personal decision that others cannot make for us, it requires a certain degree of solitude and silence. A vocation, while a gift, will undoubtedly also be demanding. God’s gifts are interactive; to enjoy them we have to be ready to take risks.

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