In his remarks at the welcoming ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis stressed his reason for coming to Latin America: for World Youth Day and to meet young people. He appealed to parents and others on behalf of young people, asking "What would become of us if we didn't look after [them]? How could we move forward?"
However, Pope Francis knows that "look[ing] after" young people means finding a balance of sharing, forming and teaching alongside space, trusting and letting go. He has high expectations for young people built on trust and faith in their "hunger for a pure truth and an authentic love." He sees their yearning for a deeper relationship with Christ. That hunger merely needs to be lovingly nurtured.
Pope Francis stressed:
"Our generation will show that it can realize the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space; how to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; how to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; how to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be; how to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living; how to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good; how to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and how to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone."
How to do that? Pope Francis points to Christ’s example: "Christ has confidence in young people and entrusts them with the very future of his mission, 'Go and make disciples.'" As Pope Francis emphasized, young people are looking for authenticity. Trust them to find it, respect their abilities and give them the "space" the pope speaks about. At the same time, reach out gently with the fullness of love and truth. They will answer.
Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.