Pope to youth: Go, the Church needs you

Paterno Esmaquel II
The Pope says the youth should bring the Gospel 'even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent'

LIGHT MOMENTS. A handout photo provided by Osservatore Romano shows Pope Francis wearing an indigenous headdress given to him by Ubirai Matos from the Pataxo tribe (4-L) after the pontiff spoke at Rio's Municipal Theater to an audience mostly made up of Brazil's political, business, and cultural elite in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 27, 2013. Photo by EPA/Osservatore Romano/Handout

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis on Sunday, July 28, challenged the youth to spread the Catholic faith even to the “most indifferent,” as he emphasized his call for a missionary Church that goes out to humanity’s “outskirts.”

In the concluding Mass for World Youth Day, Francis said the 3 million delegates who trooped to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil should share with others “the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus.”

The Pope said the experience “must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community.”

“That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love, and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history,” the pontiff said.

He added: “The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity, and the joy that is so characteristic of you… Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!”

By making this challenge, Francis involved the youth in a key theme of his papacy: promoting a missionary Church that goes out “to the ‘outskirts’ where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.”

God ‘seeks all’

In his homily on Sunday, Francis also said spreading the faith is Jesus’ commandment. “Jesus did not say: ‘If you would like to, if you have the time,’ but: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’”

FAREWELL RITES. General view of the Mass for closing the 28th World Youth Day held by Pope Francis at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28, 2013.  EPA/Marcos Arcoverde

He added the Gospel “is for everyone, not just for some.”

The Pope said: “It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”

“Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance, and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you!”

On Saturday, July 27, the Pope also asserted this message in fleshing out the reasons why people leave the Church. He said “we need a Church capable of walking at people’s side.”

Earlier on Saturday, he advised priests to stop being “presumptuous, imposing ‘our truths,’” to advance a “culture of encounter.”

In May, he described this culture as a foundation of peace, and said this will allow Catholics to find common ground even with atheists. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.