Pope Calls for New Initiatives to Evangelize Youth
Laments Family Breakdown That Leaves Them Vulnerable
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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged the invention of "new proposals" so that young people will come to know Christ and grow humanly and spiritually.
The Pope delivered that message to a group of French bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Bordeaux and Poitiers when he received them at the close of their five-yearly visit to Rome.
"Today I make an appeal to invent new proposals for young people with the objective of offering them specific places, means and support that will enable them -- at the diocesan and parish level; in chaplaincies, movements and services -- to grow humanly and spiritually," the Holy Father said Friday evening.
"The mission of Christian communities is to lead young people to Christ and make them enter into intimacy with him so that they can live their lives and build an ever more fraternal society," he said. "The social aspect must not make one forget the primary objective of pastoral care: to lead young people to Christ."
In his address, the Pope analyzed the situation of youth, stressing "the numerous breaks which make young people particularly fragile," especially because of "family separations."
"How can one not think of the children and young people who suffer terribly because of the disintegration of the family cell, or of those who are going through precarious situations which often lead them to regard themselves as excluded from society?" he asked.
In this context, young people are led to believe that "all behavior, being doable, might be good," thus leading to a "grave diminution of the more sense which leads to thinking that good and bad objectives no longer exist," the Pope said.
Hence, he called for new methods of proclaiming the faith. John Paul II encouraged the use of Internet as a means in which young people can be "informed, formed and discover the different proposals of the Church."
After stressing the importance of "places" of support, where the education of youth is carried out -- family, school, university chaplaincies -- the Holy Father asked that bishops appoint "qualified priests, with a good formation and a sterling spiritual and moral life, to support young people, to transmit Christian teaching to them, to share fraternal and leisure moments with them, so that they will become missionaries."
Another opportunity to evangelize young people is in preparing them for marriage, the Pope said.
"The Church wishes to propose the way of progression in loving relationships, which includes engagement and proposes the ideal of chastity," he said.
"It's remembered that marriage between a man and a woman, and a family, are built especially on the strong bonds between persons and on a definitive commitment, and not on a merely affective aspect, which cannot constitute the sole basis of conjugal life," the Pope said.
He concluded: "May pastors and Christian couples not be afraid to help young people to reflect on these delicate and essential questions, through catechesis and vigorous and suitable talks, making the depth and beauty of human love shine!"