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Never lose confidence in youth, Pope insists

February 07, 2013

“The Church has confidence in the young. She hopes in them and in their energy. She needs their vitality,” Pope Benedict XVI said during a February 7 audience with members of the Pontifical Council for Culture. In his remarks to the Pontifical Council, which was meeting to discuss “Emerging Youth Cultures,” the Pope said that the Church should avoid familiar and superficial perspectives on the lives of young people. In addressing youth culture, he said, “we are facing a very complex but fascinating reality that must be thoroughly understood and loved with great empathy." Pope Benedict observed that young people today are living in a period of flux. "The uncertainty and fragility that characterize so many young people often pushes them to the margins, making them almost invisible and absent from society's cultural and historical processes,” he said. He noted the aspects of youth culture that rouse strong emotions and lead to “the spectacularization of private life and a narcissistic selfishness.”

At the same time, the Holy Father continued, many young people show admirable initiative, take a deep interest in helping others, and report “profound and sincere faith experiences.” In his context the Pope warned against using “paradigms that become clichés” in assessing youth culture. The Pope asked his audience to be mindful of an “educational emergency” in the developed world, as well as the economic emergency that makes it difficult for young people to find adequate employment. These forces, he said, threaten the future of young people. But the Church cannot accept a negative judgment on the next generation, the Pope said. He continued:

If the young no longer hope or progress, if they don't put their energy, their vitality, and their capacity for anticipating the future into the dynamic of history, then we will find ourselves a humanity that is locked in itself, lacking confidence and a positive attitude toward the future.


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