Vatican City, 7 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which has the theme of "Emerging Youth Cultures". The Pope expressed his hopes that their work will be fruitful and contribute to "the Church's work in the lives of young people, which is a complex and articulated reality that can no longer be understood from within a homogeneous cultural basis but only in a horizon … that is made up of a plurality of viewpoints, perspectives, and strategies."
The Pope then spoke of the "widespread climate of instability" that is affecting the cultural, political, and economic areas―noting in the latter, the difficulty of young persons to find employment―and that has psychological and relational repercussions. "The uncertainty and fragility that characterize so many young people often pushes them to the margins, making them almost invisible and absent from society's cultural and historical processes. … The affective and emotional sphere, … strongly affected by this climate … gives birth to apparently contradictory phenomena like the spectacularization of private life and a narcissistic selfishness. Even the religious dimension, the experience of faith and membership in the Church are often lived from an individualistic and emotional perspective."
"Nevertheless, positive data are not lacking, such as volunteering, "profound and sincere faith experiences, … the efforts undertaken, in many parts of the world, to build societies capable of respecting the freedom and dignity of others, beginning with the smallest and weakest. All of this," he emphasized, "consoles us and helps us to draw a more accurate and objective picture of youth cultures. We cannot, therefore, be content with reading the cultural phenomena of the youth according to consolidated paradigms, paradigms that have become cliches. Nor can we analyse them in ways that are no longer useful, that are based on outdated and inadequate cultural categories. Ultimately, we are facing a very complex but fascinating reality that must be thoroughly understood and loved with great empathy, a reality wherein we must pay very close attention to the bottom lines and to what is to come."
The Pope referred to the youth of many Third World countries that, with their cultures and needs, represent "a challenge to the global consumer society and to the culture of established privileges, which benefit a small group of the population of the Western world. Consequently, youth cultures are also 'emerging', in the sense that they demonstrate a profound need, a cry for help, or even a 'provocation' that cannot be ignored or neglected either by civil society or by the ecclesial community."
Benedict XVI repeated his concerns for the so-called "educational emergency", which accompanies the other emergencies affecting the different dimensions of the human person and our fundamental relationships "as the growing difficulties in the labour market or in the effort over time to be faithful to responsibilities assumed. From this would follow, for the future of the world and of all of humanity, a not merely economic and social impoverishment, but a human and spiritual one as well. If the young no longer hope or progress, if they don't put their energy, their vitality, and their capacity for anticipating the future into the dynamic of history, then we will find ourselves a humanity that is locked in itself, lacking confidence and a positive attitude toward the future."
"Although we are aware of the many problematic situations, which also touch upon the spheres of faith and membership in the Church, we wish to renew our faith in the young and reaffirm that the Church looks to their condition and their cultures as an essential and inescapable reference point for pastoral outreach. … The Church has confidence in the young. She hopes in them and in their energy. She needs their vitality in order to continue living the mission entrusted to her by Christ with renewed enthusiasm. I very much hope, therefore, that the Year of Faith will be, also for the younger generations, a precious opportunity to rediscover and strengthen the friendship with Christ from which springs the joy and enthusiasm to profoundly change cultures and societies."