Tomorrow, 28th February, 2013 at 20:00, Benedict XVI will step down from his position of authority and pastoral care to 1.3 billion Catholics, after announcing it on February 11th. The reason he gave was that he no longer had “the strength of mind and body” to fulfill his duties. For his full statement read here.
Over the last two weeks, the media’s attention has been captivated, resulting in coverage of everything from Pope Benedict’s future title and function, to his wardrobe (no more red Prada shoes for him!), to speculation about the behind the scenes causes of this “shock resignation.” We would not like to focus on the spectacle and fuss around the Tubingen scholar, but to capture some of his teachings to the youth.
During the World Youth Day in Spain, a country with more than 40% unemployed youth he reminded them of their potential, “the world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” He recognized the hope that exists in each young person: “part of being young desires something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater.”
He told young people to have courage and to live their lives to the fullest: “Dear Friends, may no adversary paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weaknesses.” And urged them to defend freedom: “Look for truth with reason and heart to fearlessly defend the freedom of all. “
He told the youth to have joy, “you are constantly being offered easier choices, but you yourselves know that these are ultimately deceptive and cannot bring you serenity and joy.” He also encouraged them to strive for true love and reminded them that it is rooted in self-gift: : “In every period of history, including our own, many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of them yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love, to start a family that will remain united, to achieve personal fulfillment and real security, all of which are the guarantee of a serene and happy future.”
Benedict wrote his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est explaining the nature of love and during his visit to Sidney, he called on the youth to ‘build a civilization of love.” Young people have heard these and many other powerful messages, and are publicly expressing this through Social media. This video entitled “For a young man of 85” features young people from all over the world saying thank you to the Pope in their own languages.
We would like to join our voice to theirs and say thank you to Pope Benedict for being a good pastor and guide to so many young people during difficult yet beautiful times.
By Agnes King, Regional Director of Operations, World Youth Alliance Europe.