Takes Courage to Be Christian, Youth Forum Is Told

Archbishop Rylko Addresses International Event

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ROME, APRIL 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican official delivered an address with a blunt message to the 8th International Youth Forum: "It takes courage today to be consistent Christians."



Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, spoke to the 300 young people attending the forum in Rocca de Papa, near Rome. The pontifical council organized the event.

The participants, ages 20 to 26, are reflecting on the theme "Youth and the University: To Witness Christ in the University World."

"Christ needs courageous witnesses in universities all over the world," which is not an easy task, Archbishop Rylko told his audience Wednesday.

The problem is that "the prevailing culture, full of prejudices in regard to faith, Christianity and the Church, exerts strong pressures on believers to lead them to restrict their faith to the strictly private sphere, to make it invisible," he said.

"In universities, there is no talk about man; the question about man is not posed," the Vatican official said.

An "unprecedented acceleration of scientific progress" has resulted in "fragmentation in learning and an existential and cultural loss among young people," he added.

"Weak thought, which spreads like an oil stain proclaiming the dogmas of doubt, skepticism and radical relativism, produces feeble people, men and women who desist from engaging in the search for truth," the archbishop said.

Moreover, "the difference between ethics and scientific research is increasing," he said. "There is a greater risk that science is moving away from being an ally of man to being a threat for the whole of humanity."

Quoting John Paul II, Archbishop Rylko stressed that "to scientific formation must be added a profound moral and Christian formation [...] an ever more harmonious synthesis between faith and reason, between faith and culture, between faith and life."

Of the valor it takes to be a consistent Christian in today's world, he said: "It is the courage to be oneself a disciple of Christ without being ashamed, because we Christians have an immense treasure to share with others."

The prelate noted that it is not easy to resist the pressure of the currents of thought and cultural tendencies that are in vogue.

But "we must free ourselves from the false and altogether unjustified inferiority complex with which we often burden ourselves," he said.

"We need a sort of revolution of the faith in a multiple sense," Archbishop Rylko continued. "Above all, we need it to rediscover the courage to go against common opinions. This is why we should also have the courage" to go against "what is regarded as 'normal' and rediscover the faith in its simplicity."

"This is the spark that will trigger the revolution in our lives and in the lives of many other young people whom you will meet along the way," he concluded.