Once again, the Catholic Church proves that it is capable of gathering hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world on days that have been referred to since 1985 as “The International Youth Days.” After a hiatus of several years due to the outbreak of Corona pandemic, the wheel of life has turned again, and the youth of the world met with the participation of Pope Francis, last week, in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.
This gathering took place at a time when waves were crashing in the Western world, or rather in the entire world, over numerous vital issues that concern the youth, among which are the role of faith in contemporary societies, the defence of human life, the technology and the "illusions of virtuality", armaments and wars, the crisis of climate, and migration. The Pope initiated his calls by emphasizing that the world needs "a true" Europe that is capable of reading in the midst of zigzag lines, while calling on it to regain its youthful spirit and to play its authentic role in the "stormy" international arena.
The second call implies the Pope's repeated appeals to the youth of the world not to be afraid, but to be pioneers of dreams and not to be masterminds of fear, to shine before the darkness of life, and not to despair in the face of sadness, frustration and failure but rather to replace fears with dreams even in the face of their limitations in achieving their big dreams, since the Church and the world need youth in the same way as the Earth needs rain.
The third call stems from the fact that the gathering reflected an affirmation of the constants of faith and the beautiful values in this life which some seek to ruin or undermine, or rather to create something of the like, such as homosexuality, which have become a matter of controversy, inquiries, and demands under the cover of freedom. During the meeting, a young Spanish man proposed to marry a Spanish woman in front of 60,000 people, which served as a confirmation that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman, and not something else.
As for the fourth call of the ageing Pope, who has been rejuvenated while being among the youth, it is represented in urging the youth to make faith credible in their daily choices since it does not suffice for the believers to be impressed but rather to impress others, and this only comes true through reflecting their values on society, such as working for the common good, and revealing tangible love, rather than platonic love which “smears hands” while touching the miseries of others. How beautiful is the photographic shot that depicted a young man being carried in his wheelchair by his young peers. Every person has the right to be happy and to feel loved.
The fifth call was dedicated to peace. During these days, Pope Francis went on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima Grotto and prayed for peace. It was also remarkable that Palestinian youth Karam Shelian sat next to the Pope at the lunch table with young people from different countries of the world. This serves as a call that the world we dream of is possible. It is a world of brothers and sisters living side by side without hatred, fear or exclusion, and without destructive weapons whose effects impact human's capabilities, hearts, and sacred dignity.