ROME – Pope Francis said on Saturday that the church needs “the spirit and intuition” of young people, whom he urged to dream big and set an example for the world, during a meeting with thousands of boys and girls from all over Italy at Rome’s ancient Circus Maximus amphitheater.
“The church needs your spirit, your intuition and your faith. And when you go beyond anything we’ve ever done, have patience and wait for us,” the pontiff told the 50,000 youths in his audience.
The pope urged them not to conform to the cautious steps “of those in the last row” but to show “the courage” to create a “more brotherly” humanity.
The youngsters were on a pilgrimage to Rome to hear the pope at an event organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference to prepare for the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which in October will study subjects related to young people.
The event had an air of festivity that began when the pontiff arrived in the popemobile, saluting the thousands of youths sitting on their backpacks waiting for him as the sun went down on the Italian capital.
The pope answered questions from four youths who expressed doubts about their professional futures, their ambitions and their wish to pursue their vocations.
One of them questioned the Church’s credibility following its “frequent scandals.”
Francis replied that the clergy’s way of life also affects the faithful, and in such cases “is a perversion” of the Church itself: “The Church, without setting an example, is nothing but smoke.”
Another two youths asked about their professional futures and the pope urged them to “dream big,” with courage and involving the people around them.
But he asked them to reject “pills for dreaming” because they “ruin your life,” and warned them about dreams “of comfort and well-being,” which in his opinion “put young people to sleep and leave them on the sofa.”
“A youth who doesn’t know how to dream is a youth anaesthetized. He or she won’t understand life, the strength of life. Dreams wake you up. It’s the work you’ll have to do – transform today’s dreams into tomorrow’s reality. It takes courage,” he said.