Pope Francis Tells Youth to be Real “In a society poisoned by fake news...where personal profiles are often tailored or falsified...being “real”...before others, and before God.”

 Clementine Hall Saturday, May 25, 2024  _______________________________________
On Saturday, May 25th, Pope Francis received participants in the International Congress of Youth Ministry, organised by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.
The meeting brought together young people and delegates from episcopal conferences, associations, and various ecclesial movements.

Eminences, dear brothers and sisters, good morning! 
First of all I want to express my gratitude to all those who cooperated in the success of the World Youth Day in Lisbon. It was a great effort, but it was worth it because, after the pandemic and amidst so much international tension, young people needed an injection of hope; and the days in Lisbon were a true celebration of the joy of living and being Christian; a celebration of the hope that continues to live in the hearts of young people, because God himself nourishes it and makes it firm, despite all adversities. Dear friends, encouraged by this experience, you are called to work for upcoming international events, but also, and above all, to accompany youth ministry in "ordinary times". 
Thinking about the Youth Jubilee - next year - and the WYD in Seoul - in three years -, my "dream" is that they can make many young people meet Jesus, even among those who normally do not attend the Church, bringing them the message of hope. I think of those boys and girls who have "lowered their gaze", who have lost the horizon, who have put aside their big dreams and remained entangled in the sadness and evil of living. Asia is a young continent, a vital continent, yet many young people, especially in large cities, suffer a loss of hope and a withdrawal into themselves, with few relationships, few interests. And the same happens all over the world. The events in Rome and Seoul are the opportunities that God offers us to tell all the young people of the world that Jesus is hope, hope for you, hope for us, hope for everyone! While you work for these great events, the Jubilee and the meeting in Seoul, you must not neglect the ordinary ways, that is, the path of young people in daily life. It is the path and pastoral care of small steps, of small numbers, of simple words and gestures, of moments of celebration and prayer in community, of everyday decisions. They are less flashy experiences, but they are the ones that dig deep into the heart and that over time bear lasting fruit. It is the sanctity of daily life, which I spoke about in Gaudete et exsultate. And, not to advertise my writings, but read Gaudete et exsultate, it is a hymn to joy, and the sad Christian is a sad Christian. Joy must be the food of the Christian, the expression of the Christian and if you don't know what joy is, go in front of the mirror... you will start to laugh a little! In this regard, I would like to recall some elements that must never be missing in the daily work of youth ministry. First of all, that young people are helped to have some fundamental certainties in their hearts: "God is love", "Christ saves you", "He lives", "the Spirit gives life". They are certainties and there is also another certainty: Our Lady loves you because she is a mother. Four, five simple truths that we must never tire of announcing (see Christus vivit, 112-133). Young people, in fact, are particularly affected by the negative news that besieges us, but this must not obscure the certainty that the risen Christ is with them and is stronger than all evil. Let's think about, I'm not talking about the news, about the advertisements of the wars, let's think about this. Young people feel this. Yes, Christ lives! Everything lives, it is in his hands and he alone knows the destinies of the world and the course of our lives. It is important to offer young people opportunities to experience the living Christ in prayer, in the Eucharistic celebration and reconciliation, in community meetings, in service to the poor, in the testimony of the saints. The young people themselves who experience it are the bearers of this announcement-testimony.
Another essential element is spiritual discernment (see Christus vivit, 278-298). Discernment is an art that pastoral workers must learn first: priests and religious, catechists, companions, young people themselves who follow other young people. It is an art that cannot be improvised, which must be explored, experimented and experienced. For a young person, finding a person capable of discernment is finding a treasure. On the journey of faith and in the discovery of one's vocation, a wise guide helps to avoid many mistakes, many naiveties, many moments of confusion and "paralysis". A guide that does not take away freedom but accompanies. I also held a series of catechesis on discernment, you can go and look for them, which explains how discernment is done. Here I would like to underline just three qualities: it is synodal, it is personal, it is truth-oriented. Discernment is synodal, personal and oriented towards truth.

Synodal. Today individualism prevails: everyone goes their own way, everyone attributes a meaning to life by themselves, everyone establishes their own values, their own truths. Perhaps with a categorization of “I like - I don't like”. And this is ugly individualism. Instead, in the practice of discernment, the Church places brothers and sisters in the faith alongside us to travel a journey together, not alone, and thus our inner maturation becomes much richer. In this sense discernment is synodal.

At the same time, discernment is personal. In our world everything is standardized and standardized, young people, however, must be accompanied one by one. Each of them is unique and unrepeatable. Everyone deserves listening, understanding and advice suited to their age, human and spiritual maturity. Discernment can only be personal. The day before yesterday I had a meeting in a parish, with teenagers, about sixty teenagers, I was pleased by the questions they asked, questions of research, of openness to the Lord, of doubts. Listen and help move forward.

And then discernment is oriented towards the truth, this seems like a complaint. We live in a society that is polluted by fake news, where personal profiles are often altered or fake, where alternative identities are created, discernment aims to be a path of authenticity for young people: to escape from artificial identities and discover their real identity . It's about becoming "real" before oneself, before others and before God. We laugh when we see that women wear make-up, they have to be beautiful, that's why they wear make-up, but how many times do we all do a "make-up" of the soul to appear what we are not. Be careful about this. Real before others, before God, before ourselves.

I conclude - don't worry! we come to the end – it is important to continue listening to young people. Real listening, which doesn't remain "halfway" or just "facade". Young people should not be exploited to implement ideas already decided by others or which do not really meet their needs. Young people must be made responsible, involved in dialogue, in planning activities, in decisions. We must make them feel that they are an active and full part of the life of the Church; and above all that they themselves are the first announcers of the Gospel to their peers.

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for your commitment to young people and for young people! Go forward with courage, bringing to everyone the good news that Jesus is alive that Jesus is Lord: this is the message of joy, consolation and hope that many are waiting for. I heartily bless you, and ask you to pray for me. Thank you