Pope asks young Catholics to be society’s critical conscience

America Magazine

Pope Francis urged young Catholics on Sunday to “be the critical conscience of society”.

During his celebration of a Mass marking the 36th World Youth Day, Francis praised young people for their efforts to protect the Earth’s environment.

Calling them “friends”, Francis told his young congregation “we are not here to be enchanted by the sirens of the world, but to take our lives in hand, to ‘take a bite out of life,’ in order to live it to the full.

“In this way, with the freedom of Jesus, we find the courage we need to swim against the current. I would like to emphasize this: swimming against the current, having the courage to swim against the current.”

He explained this is not the same as the daily temptation to swim against other people,… but rather against the unhealthy current of our own selfishness, closed-mindedness and rigidity that often seeks like-minded groups to survive.”

Francis told them they have been “entrusted with an exciting but also challenging task, to stand tall while everything around us seems to be collapsing.”

He also thanked them “for all those times when you cultivate the dream of fraternity, work to heal the wounds of God’s creation, fight to ensure respect for the dignity of the vulnerable and spread the spirit of solidarity and sharing.”

He noted that many young people have criticized environmental contamination.

“We need this,” Francis told them.

Exhorting them to avoid “ambiguous compromises,” Francis told them to be free and authentic instead “the critical conscience of society.

“Don’t be afraid to criticize! We need your criticism. Many of you, for example, are critical of environmental pollution. We need this! Be free in criticism.

“Be passionate about truth, so that, with your dreams, you can say: ‘My life is not captive to the mindset of the world: I am free, because I reign with Jesus for justice, love and peace!’”

Social justice and care of the environment have been key messages of Francis’s papacy.

He is expected to meet with young people from all over the world at the Catholic church’s World Youth jamboree in Lisbon, Portugal, in August 2023.


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