Young people are the living hope of a missionary church, pope says

Young people walk in procession carrying palm fronds or olive branches at the start of Palm Sunday Mass presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 24, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Young people need to understand how much Christ loves them unconditionally and how much the church needs their voices and presence, Pope Francis said.

"Dear young people, you are the living hope of a Church on the move! For this reason, I thank you for your presence and for your contribution to the life of the Body of Christ," the pope told the world's young people in a written message.

The pope's message was released by the Vatican March 25 to mark the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation "Christus Vivit" ("Christ is Alive"), published in 2019 and reflecting on the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment.

Pope Francis said he wanted to reach out again to young people with a message that could be "a source of renewed hope for you."

Christ is alive, he said in his message, and "his love for you is unaffected by your failings or your mistakes. He gave his life for you, so in his love for you he does not wait for you to be perfect."

"Walk with him as with a friend, welcome him into your life and let him share all the joys and hopes, the problems and struggles of this time in your lives," the pope wrote. "You will see that the path ahead will become clearer and that your difficulties will be much less burdensome, because he will be carrying them with you."

"In today's world, marked by so many conflicts and so much suffering, I suspect that many of you feel disheartened. So together with you, I would like to set out from the proclamation that is the basis of our hope and that of all humanity: 'Christ is alive!'" he wrote, and "he loves you with an infinite love."

"How greatly I want this proclamation to reach every one of you, for you to accept it as living and true in your own lives, and feel the desire to share it with your friends!" the pope wrote.

Pope Francis noted that April 14 will mark the 40th anniversary of the first great gathering of young people that, during St. John Paul II's Holy Year of the Redemption, "was the seed of the future World Youth Days."

Pope Francis recalled his first World Youth Day as pope in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, and how "I urged you to make your voices heard! 'Hagan lio!' Make a mess!"

"Today, once again, I ask you: make your voices heard! Proclaim, not so much in words but by your life and your heart, the truth that Christ is alive! And in this way, help the whole Church to get up and set out ever anew to bring his message to the entire world," he wrote.

He encouraged young people to never "leave us without your good way of 'making a mess,' your drive, like that of a clean and well-tuned engine, and your own particular way of living and proclaiming the joy of the risen Jesus!"



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