Preparations are underway at diocesan level for the World Youth Day. A journey towards 2023 when young people will gather around the Pope in Lisbon.
That’s right. Young people are among those who have suffered most in this period of health emergency. Their external life and outreach were suddenly cut off. They could not go to school, university, work. They were cut off from social life and from friends.
But it is also true that young people were the first to set solidarity in motion, to fight for life, to instil hope, to be builders of peace, to care for the environment.
Pope Francis listened to them, he heard from them how much they have lived and are living at this time. A few days ago he issued his message for WYD 2021 with an invitation calling for action: “Stand up! I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen”.
He says, “When a young person falls, in some sense all humanity falls. Yet it is also true that when a young person rises, it is as if the whole world rises as well”. He challenges them with the story of the young Paul, who while on his way to Damascus to arrest some Christians, was surrounded by a light “brighter than the sun” and heard the voice of Jesus calling him by name, “Saul! Saul”.
Almost as if today Pope Francis wants to call every young person by name. And he retraces with them Paul’s path of witness of Christ. In conclusion, he says to them, Arise! Testify with your experience, to the love and respect it is possible to instil in human relationships. Arise! Uphold social justice, truth, human rights. Testify to the new way of looking at things that enables you to view creation with eyes brimming with wonder, that makes you see the Earth as our common home and gives you the courage to promote an integral ecology. Testify that we can always start again and that Christ is alive.
“I see this message as a great challenge for us young people,” Klara María Piedade, 27 years old, a young woman from Brazil, confided to me. “I think it is an answer and a confirmation that we really must be responsible in becoming protagonists of the united world, of a more fraternal world”.
Klara is one of the young people who this year are at the Focolare’s “Young People for a United World Centre” in Rome. Since last May they have been busy on various fronts in favour of caring for our common home, echoing the Laudato Sì. Dare to care – Dare to take care. This is their programme of which they are the main promoters. “We must be protagonists”, Klara reiterates, “not only in words but with our actions. We will change the world if we take this first step. It is very important to network with those who are already doing something”.
The date of the next World Youth Day which will be held in Lisbon, Portugal in August 2023 has just been announced. Meanwhile, in November this year, on the feast of Christ the King, the WYD will be celebrated in all the dioceses of the world. A path of preparation open to the surprises of God, “for he wants to light up our path”.