On April 2, the Vatican released “Christ Lives,” the third apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis. It arrives following the fall Synod of Bishops on Youth, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, and it touches on the sexual abuse crisis in the church, migration and the effects of war and poverty on young people.
Throughout “Christ Lives,” Francis acknowledges the frustrations many young people experience and encourages young Catholics to “take risks, even if it means making mistakes.” He adds that the youth must maintain their “healthy restlessness,” because “true inner peace coexists with that profound discontent.” The church must engage the restlessness of young people—instead of viewing it as a threat or a drain on resources.
The letter also provides advice for those who work with young people. Francis encourages church leaders to make their institutions more inviting, adding that they “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.”
This document is a gift to the church, especially in the United States, where the number of Catholics participating in church life continues to decline. Pope Francis has provided church leaders and Catholics with a document that can help us all to better accompany our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. The pope concludes the letter with humble words reminding young people that they are our church’s future. “Dear young people, my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you, outstripping all those who are slow or fearful. Keep running,” he says. “The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith. We need them! And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us.”