Back on his home continent Pope Francis, who refers to himself as the Bishop of Rome, quickly defined the importance of his first international journey and the World Youth Day.
In his address at the presidential palace, the Pope explained that “Young people are the window through which the future enters the world, thus presenting us with great challenges. Our generation will show that it can realize the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space; how to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; how to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives”.
Parents, educators and pastors are challenged to teach and witness the values of our Judeo-Christian tradition that are increasingly ignored and discounted by society at large. The pull of the siren song of secularism is strong indeed and is only countered by the values inculcated by family, school and parish. Parenting, the rearing of children, has never been more challenging than today.
The answer to changing the world, Pope Francis reminds us, is not to withdraw from it, but to engage it with Gospel values, “This first trip is precisely to meet the young, but to find them not isolated from their lives – I would like to find them as part of the social fabric, in society. Because, when we isolate the young, we do a great injustice: we remove their sense of belonging. The young belong – they belong to family, a homeland, a culture, a faith… they belong in this way, and we must not isolate them! But above all, we must not isolate them from the rest of society. They – it is true – are the future of the people.”
I am proud that our own young people are participating in World Youth Day. Some young adults are already taking on leadership roles and making a positive difference in our Church. And, indeed, as a generation they are our future. They are the leaven that will shape the future of our world. The torch will pass. It is our responsibility to see that it is in good hands.