Pope Francis provided practical advice to millennials and the youth in a rare apostolic exhortation for the youth published on the Vatican’s website on April 2.
The post-synodal letter called “Christus Vivit” covered topics on tricky topics particularly on young women, social media, plight of migrants and crimes of the clergy.
This is a significant development following the widespread criticisms it received after the crimes of bishops and priests got exposed in recent years.
Crisis of the youth
People who are living in comfort can help by feeling for and and reaching out to those who are in trouble, Pope Francis advised.
“Try to learn to weep for all those young people less fortunate than yourselves. Weeping is also an expression of mercy and compassion,” he said.
He recognized how the youth today, particularly women, are suffering from “forms of marginalization” and other difficult situations such as unexpected pregnancy, addiction and safety from sexually transmitted diseases.
“Many young people today live in war zones and experience violence in countless different forms: kidnapping, extortion, organized crime, human trafficking, slavery and sexual exploitation, wartime rape, and so forth,” he said in the document.
“Let us not forget the difficult situation of adolescents and young people who become pregnant, the scourge of abortion, the spread of HIV, various forms of addiction (drugs, gambling, pornography and so forth), and the plight of street children without homes, families or economic resources”. In the case of women, these situations are doubly painful and difficult,” he added.
Pope Francis advised the youth to be mindful in using social media, which have become a powerful tool to manipulate, exploit and bully them online.
While the “digital world” provides an effective means to communicate, it can also put young people at risk of “addiction, isolation and gradual loss of contact with concrete reality, blocking the development of authentic interpersonal relationships.”
“New forms of violence are spreading through social media, for example cyber-bullying. The internet is also a channel for spreading pornography and the exploitation of persons for sexual purposes or through gambling,” he said.
Crimes of the clergy
Pope Francis appealed to the youth to help priests and other members of the clergy who are at risk of going astray or who have already committed child abuse, rape and other horrible crimes.
He encouraged them to report incidents of abuse and harassment to proper authorities immediately.
However, he admitted that the clergy also needed the help of the community, particularly the young ones, in directing them back on the right path.
“If you see a priest at risk, because he has lost the joy of his ministry, or seeks affective compensation, or is taking the wrong path, remind him of his commitment to God and his people, remind him of the Gospel and urge him to hold to his course. In this way, you will contribute greatly to something fundamental: preventing these atrocities from being repeated,” he added.
With the influx of migrants, particularly refugees from war-torn countries, the Pope cautioned young people against discriminating and bullying these foreigners rather welcome them as any other person.
He acknowledges the fear and alarm that host countries feel with the sharp increase of arrivals of other nationalities into their soil.
“In a special way, I urge young people not to play into the hands of those who would set them against other young people, newly arrived in their countries, and who would encourage them to view the latter as a threat, and not possessed of the same inalienable dignity as every other human being,” Pope Francis said.