Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for the Laity has issued a press release to explain the content and objectives of the Holy Father's message for the 29th World Youth Day.
“This is the first annual Message from Pope Francis to the youth of the world. It follows the tradition begun by Blessed John Paul II and continued by Benedict XVI on the occasion of each World Youth Day (WYD). Pope Francis is resuming the conversation he began with young people at the very successful WYD that took place in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013. He presents the themes for the next three WYDs in order to set in motion the three-year path of spiritual preparation leading to the international celebration in Krakow in July 2016.
The themes for the next three WYDs are taken from the Beatitudes. The Holy Father considers this passage from Matthew’s Gospel to be a central point of reference in a Christian’s life. It should be part of everyone’s life plan.
In this Message, the Holy Father reminds young people that Jesus himself showed the way by embodying the Beatitudes in his life. It is a real challenge for young people today to live according to the Beatitudes by following Jesus. It means going against the tide and being witnesses of revolutionary innovation. As you cannot be a real Christian and “think small” about life, the Pope urges young people to resist 'low cost' offers of happiness and to have the courage to be truly happy, a gift that only God can give.
Pope Francis explains to young people what it means to be 'poor in spirit', thus entering into the heart of the theme for the next World Youth Day. Jesus himself chose the way of dispossession and poverty. The Pope addressed a pressing invitation to young people to imitate Jesus, and he pointed to the example of Saint Francis of Assisi. Young Christians are therefore called to conversion, to embrace an evangelical lifestyle, one of moderation in which we seek the essential and act in solidarity with the poor. The Pope explains that the poor are both the 'suffering flesh' of Christ that we are all called to personally touch, and they are also true masters of life, often with much to offer on the human and spiritual plane.
The Pope emphasises the close connection between the theme for the Rio WYD – 'Go and make disciples of all nations!' – and the Beatitude about the poor in spirit. Pope Francis explains, 'evangelical poverty is a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God'. It is often the most simple of hearts that express true joy, and evangelisation depends on this joy.
The Holy Father reminds young people that thirty years have passed since the Cross of the Jubilee of the Redemption was entrusted to young people. The anniversary is on 22 April. 'That symbolic act by John Paul II was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents'. Pope Francis tells young people that after John Paul II’s canonisation, 'an event marked by immense joy', he will be 'the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported'”.