GREETING OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE DIOCESE OF AIRE ET DAX (FRANCE)
Hall of the Consistory
Thursday, 25 April 2019
Dear friends, good morning! Bonjour!
I am very happy to welcome you on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome. I thank your Bishop, Bishop Souchu, for his words. I greet you with affection and, through you, I express my spiritual closeness to the young people and to all the faithful of the Diocese of Aire and Dax.
I give thanks to God for the initiative of those responsible for youth ministry who, with the support of your Bishop, have proposed you to live these "Landes Youth Days". It is a beautiful occasion that is offered to you to revive in you the gift of faith, here, in Rome, with the apostles Peter and Paul and all those witnesses, including some young people, who suffered martyrdom for choosing to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. This is even more important because many people think that today it is more difficult to call themselves Christians and live faith in Christ. And you are certainly experiencing these difficulties, which sometimes become tests. In fact, the current context is not easy, also because of the painful and complex issue of abuses committed by members of the Church. However, I would like to repeat to you that today it is no more difficult than in other times of the Church: it is only different, but it is no longer difficult. Therefore, take advantage of this pilgrimage to rediscover that the Church, of which you are a member, "has been walking for two thousand years, sharing the joys and hopes, the sadness and the anguish of men. And he walks as he is, without resorting to any cosmetic surgery "(Esort. Ap. Postsin. Christus vivit, 101). In fact, looking at you, I recognize the work of the Lord Jesus who does not abandon his Church and who allows, thanks to your youth, your enthusiasm and the talents that he has entrusted to you, to renew himself and to rejuvenate in the various phases of his long story.
Dear friends, with the help and support of your Pastors, your elder brothers and sisters in the faith, and with the example of the saints who have faced the difficulties of their times, I encourage you to remain united to the Lord Jesus through the listening to the Word, sacramental practice, fraternal life and service to others. In the Church, holy and composed of sinners, may you recognize what that word is, that message of Jesus that God wants to address to the world through your life in what it has of its unique (see Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 24) . In the image of the emblematic tree of your region, the pine of the Landes, which has allowed us to restore marshy areas, be rooted in the love of God to ensure that, where you live, the Church is loved. Yes, let yourself be transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit to bring Christ into every environment and witness to the joy and youth of the Gospel! And, following the example of St. Vincent de Paul, a landese like you, make visible the love that God has filled you with, loving "with the strength of your arms and the sweat of your brow"! In this sense, be always builders of bridges between people, trying to grow a culture of encounter and dialogue, to contribute to the advent of an authentic human fraternity. With your attention to the little ones and the poor, you can light up stars in the night of those who are tried in different ways. You can manifest, with gestures and words, that "God is always new, [...] [and that] leads us where humanity is most wounded and where human beings, below the appearance of superficiality and conformism, continue to seek the answer to the question of the meaning of life "(ibid., 135). I count on you. The Church needs your impetus, your intuitions, your faith, your courage!
With this hope, I entrust you to the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Madonna of Buglose, and of St. Vincent de Paul. I give the Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the faithful of the Diocese of Aire and Dax. And please pray for me as I pray for you! Thank you.
Source of Text and Image: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation