Pope encourages young people to seize life


Speaking to thousands of young Italians at St Peter’s Square last week, Pope Francis urged them to seize life.

Have the courage to follow Jesus despite the fears and insecurities you might have, Francis said.

He began his speech after riding around in his popemobile greeting youth before the event started, listening to testimonies from several participants before offering his own remarks.

“Life is for living and giving to others,” he told the crowd.

“It is important that you move forward.”

Staying isolated and closed off from others doesn’t help, but talking to and confiding in others about your fears does.

“Illuminate them, say them. Discouragement? Win it with courage, with someone to give you a hand. And the nose for life: don’t lose it, because it’s a beautiful thing.”

Acknowledging the many reasons making young people afraid, Francis reminded the 80,000-strong crowd that Easter marks Jesus’ victory over death.

This year, “the clouds that darken our time are still dense,” he said.

“In addition to the pandemic, Europe is experiencing a terrible war, while injustices and violence continue in many regions of the earth that destroy mankind and the planet.”

It is often young people who pay the highest price as they lose their hope and dreams for the future, he said.

“Sometimes life puts us to the test, makes us touch our frailties, makes us feel naked, helpless, alone…We must not be ashamed to say: ‘I’m afraid of the dark!’ We are all afraid of the dark,” the pope said. “Fears must be said, fears must be expressed in order to be able to drive them away.

“When the fears, which are in darkness, go into the light, the truth bursts out,” he said. The important thing about moments of crisis is not the crisis itself, but “how I manage this crisis.”

Closing his speech, the pope told the young crowd not to be “ashamed of your outbursts of generosity.”

“Don’t be afraid of life, please! Be afraid of death, the death of the soul, the death of the future, the closure of the heart, be afraid of these things. But of life, no. Life is beautiful.”

Called “#Seguimi (#Followme),” from Chapter 21 of John’s Gospel and promoted on social media under the same hashtag, the pilgrimage marks one of the first major public gatherings to take place in St Peter’s Square since 2020.


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