Pope Francis opened the pre-synodal meeting of young people by inviting the over 300 young people, who have come to Rome from all continents, to “have the guts to speak boldly and do not be ashamed."
The Pope added that we live in a culture that “idolises youth” but “excludes many young people from being leaders" as shown by the many unemployed young people who end up depressed, committing suicide or turning to extremism.
A Synod of Bishops is an advisory body for the Pope. It is described as a group of bishops who meet together to foster closer unity between the Pope and bishops, to assist the Pope with their advice in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world.
The upcoming Synod is entitled "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment". Below is a transcript of some inspiring words from Pope Francis as he welcomed young people to the pre-synodal meeting:
“It is necessary to bring out what each of you, and each of us, have in our hearts. Here, you shall speak bravely: say what you feel, and if someone feels offended, ask forgiveness and move on. You know how to speak like this. But listen with humility. If someone I don’t like is speaking, I must listen to them more because everyone has the right to be heard as everyone has the right to speak”.
"Your contribution is indispensable, we need you to prepare for the Synod that will gather the Bishops in October on the theme “Young people, faith and vocational discernment”. In many moments in the history of the Church, as well as in numerous biblical episodes, God wanted to speak through the youngest ones: I am thinking, for example, of Samuel, David and Daniel. All of them were not born saints, righteous, models of others, they were all men and women who had sinned, but who felt the desire to do something good, God pushed them and they went forward: and this is beautiful."
"In difficult times, the Lord makes history go forward with the young. They tell the truth. You, young people have so much strength to do so many things. For this reason, I urge you: be brave in these days, say everything that comes to your mind, if you make a mistake someone else will correct you”.
“Too often we talk about young people without asking them first. When someone wants to campaign, they praise young people but they don’t let them ask questions. Young people are no fools. Even the best surveys on the world of youth, while useful cannot replace the need for face-to-face meetings."
"I want to tell you one thing: youth does not exist, young people exist with their stories, faces, looks and illusions. Young people exists. Talking about youth is easy, you make percentage abstractions, but what does your heart say? Talk to, and hear young people out. And even if sometimes young people are not the Nobel Prize for prudence, even if sometimes they speak like “a slap in the face”, one must listen to them. Some people think it would be easier to keep you “at a safe distance” so to not be provoked by you. But it’s not enough to exchange messages or share nice photos. Young people must be taken seriously!”
"You are often marginalised from public life and you find yourself begging for jobs that do not guarantee you a future. I don’t know if this happens in all your countries but it does in many. If I am not mistaken, the youth unemployment rate here in Italy for 25-year-old and up, is around 35%, in another European country that borders Italy it is 47%, and in another more than fifty. What does a young person who cannot find a job do? They fall ill, get depressed fall into addiction, commit suicide or rebel. And this is a social sin and society is responsible for it: I would like you to tell us the causes, the reasons: I do not know them well, but it would help us so much to know how you live this dramatic situation."
"Too often, you are left alone. But the truth is that you are culture-crafters, with your style and your originality, you are able to build a culture that goes unseen yet goes forward."
"This pre-Synodal meeting is meant to be a sign of something great: the Church’s willingness to listen to all young people, no one excluded, and this is not for politics, or to have an artificial “youth-filia”, but because we need to better understand what God and history is asking of us”.
"We must take risks, because love knows how to take risks; without taking risks, a young person grows old, and the Church also grows old. Therefore, we need you, young people, living-stones of a Church with a young face, but not thanks to the make-up: not through artificial rejuvenation, but by enlivening it from within.
"An institution that makes choices so as not to risk, remains a child, does not grow up. Risk! With cautious advice, but go forward. I say this with pain: how often I see Christian communities that have grown old because they were afraid, afraid to go out, to go out into the existential suburbs of life, to go out there where the future is played out. One thing is prudence, which is a virtue, but another is fear”.