Pope Francis urged young adults in Canada “not to let the world be ruined by those without scruples, who only think about exploiting it and destroying it.” Instead, he said they should “flood the places where you live with the joy and enthusiasm typical of your youthful age, to irrigate the world and history with the joy that comes from the Gospel, from having met a person: Jesus, who has enthralled you and has drawn you to be with Him.”
The pope delivered the message in a video shown to young Canadians gathered in multiple cities for a town hall style event with Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s family and laity office, ahead of a 2018 Vatican meeting on young adults and the church. The event was held earlier this month and a televised version of it premiered Sunday night on Salt + Light Television, a Catholic station based in Toronto.
The pope, speaking in Italian, urged young people, “Do not raise walls of division: do not raise walls of division! Build bridges, like this extraordinary one that you are crossing in spirit, and that links the shores of two oceans.”
“The world, the church, are in need of courageous young people, who are not cowed in the face of difficulties, who face their trials and keep their eyes and hearts open to reality, so that no one should be rejected or subjected to injustice or to violence, or deprived...of human dignity,” he continued.
Francis urged young adults to continue fostering a relationship with Jesus through prayer.
“Let Him speak to you, embrace you, console you, heal your wounds, dissolve your doubts and fears—and you shall be ready for the fascinating adventure of life, that precious and inestimable gift that God places every day in your hands,” the pope said.
He acknowledged the challenges young people face today, a frequent theme in his speeches.
“I'm sure your heart—a young heart—will not be closed to the cry for help of so many of your peers who seek freedom, work, study, a chance to make sense of their lives,” he said. “I count on your willingness, your commitment, your ability to face important challenges and dare to make the future, to take decisive steps along the path of change.”
“I'm sure your heart—a young heart—will not be closed to the cry for help of so many of your peers who seek freedom, work, study.”
During the event, Cardinal Farrell echoed the pope’s message.
“The Holy Father wants us to change the world,” the former bishop of Dallas, Tex., said. “Make a difference. Don’t let the world control you; don’t let it drag you down. But you tell us how we can help you to improve it and to make it better.”
Bishops from around the world will gather in Rome next October for a three-week long assembly, which Pope Francis decided would focus on the needs of young people in the church.
According to the Vatican, the goal of the meeting is “to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they discover their plan for life and realize it with joy, opening up to the encounter with God and with human beings, and actively participating in the edification of the Church and of society.”
In January, Pope Francis wrote a letter to young people about the goals of the synod, and in April, he said during a speech at the Vatican that he wants to hear the voices of all young adults, including Catholics as well as atheists, agnostics and those estranged from the church.
“Every young person has something to say to others, something to say to adults, something to say to priests, to sisters, to the bishops and to the pope,” Francis said during an animated address during which he set aside a prepared text. “We all need to listen to you!”