That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.

I address my cordial greeting to you, to the Bishops, to the national leaders and to the young people gathered these days in Rome for the Fourth European Meeting on Youth Ministry, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in cooperation with the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences on the theme: A young Church witnessing to the joy of the Gospel.

After the three meetings during the 90s, you have resumed “walking together through the streets of Europe”. Along the way, I invite you to recognize that, as we are talking and discussing together, Jesus himself draws near and walks with us (cf. Lk 24:15). Like the disciples in Emmaus, let us allow Him to open our eyes in order to recognize Him, helping us find in Him the meaning of this difficult but exciting piece of history that is being given to us to live together.

You, who work in the field of youth ministry, are doing valuable work for the Church. Young people need this service: adults and mature peers in the faith who accompany them on their journey, helping them to find the path that leads to Christ. Much more than promoting a series of activities for young people, this ministry consists in walking with them, accompanying them personally in the complex and sometimes difficult situations in which they are immersed.

Youth ministry is called to gather the questions of young people today, and starting from them, to bring a true and honest dialogue in order to bring Christ into their life. In this sense, a true dialogue can be made by those who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, which overflows into the relationship with brothers and sisters.

This is the reason you have come together, to create a European “network” of acquaintances and friendships, thanks to which the continent’s youth ministry leaders may share experiences attained “in the field” and the questions that stem from them. We are well aware that there is much to do. I ask you to never tire of proclaiming the Gospel, through your life and your word: today’s Europe needs to rediscover it!

I would like to therefore encourage you to consider the present reality of European young people through the gaze of Christ. May He teach us to see not only challenges and problems, but to recognize the many seeds of love and of hope scattered on the soil of this continent, which has given to the Church a great number of men and women saints, and many of these are young people! Let us not forget that we have been assigned the task of sowing, but it is God who gives growth to the seeds we scatter (cf. 1 Cor 3:7).

As you sow the Word of the Lord in this vast field that is the European youth, you have the opportunity to account for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and reverence (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). You can help young people to realize that faith is not compared to reason, and thus accompany them to become joyous leaders of evangelization to their peers. […]

11 December 2014

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“Europe is so confused about its own identity

[…] This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, which inaugurated a new era of ecumenical dialogue and expressed the enduring commitment of the Catholic Church to seek the unity of Christ’s disciples. For all of us, the International Roman Catholic/Old Catholic Dialogue Commission plays a significant role in seeking ever greater fidelity to the Lord’s prayer, “that all may be one” (cf. Jn 17:21). It has been possible to build new bridges of a more profound mutual understanding and practical co-operation. Convergences and consensus have been found, and differences have been better identified and set in new contexts.

While we rejoice whenever we take steps towards a stronger communion in faith and life, we are also saddened when we recognize that in the course of time new disagreements between us have emerged. The theological and ecclesiological questions that arose during our separation are now more difficult to overcome due to the increasing distance between us on matters of ministry and ethical discernment.

The challenge for Catholics and Old Catholics, then, is to persevere in substantive theological dialogue and to walk together, to pray together and to work together in a deeper spirit of conversion towards all that Christ intends for his Church. In this separation there have been, on the part of both sides, grave sins and human faults. In a spirit of mutual forgiveness and humble repentance, we need now to strengthen our desire for reconciliation and peace. The path towards unity begins with a change of heart, an interior conversion (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 4). It is a spiritual journey from encounter to friendship, from friendship to brotherhood, from brotherhood to communion. Along the way, change is inevitable. We must always be willing to listen to and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth (cf. Jn 16:13).

In the meantime, in the heart of Europe, which is so confused about its own identity and vocation, there are many areas in which Catholics and Old Catholics can collaborate in meeting the profound spiritual crisis affecting individuals and societies. There is a thirst for God. There is a profound desire to recover a sense of purpose in life. There is an urgent need for a convincing witness to the truth and values of the Gospel. In this we can support and encourage one another, especially at the level of parishes and local communities. In fact, the soul of ecumenism lies in a “change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 8). In prayer for and with one another our differences are taken up and overcome in fidelity to the Lord and his Gospel. […]

30 October 2014

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