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From June 19 to June 22, some 250 youth delegates from 109 countries met in Rome for the International Youth Forum, where they discussed the future of youth engagement in the Church. The gathering followed the April 2019 release of Christus Vivit, an Apostolic Exhortation to youth that was Pope Francis’ response to a Synod of 300 bishops, religious, and lay leaders from around the world.

As the pope’s remarks to youth at the forum made clear, much of what he wrote about four years ago in Laudato Si’ has been emphasized with greater urgency in Christus Vivit. Indeed, with more young people clamoring for environmental and climate justice, Christus Vivit fits hand in hand with the call to action of Laudato Si’. “Young friends, don’t wait until tomorrow to contribute your energy, your audacity and your creativity to changing the world…you are the now of God, and he wants you to bear fruit.” (CV 178).

For young people and young adults, Pope Francis’ message is clear: “Christ is alive! and this changes everything!” With certainty that “goodness will have the upper hand,” we know that “all our struggles will prove worthwhile” (CV 127). This reminds us of the joy of St. Francis, who lived and breathed and nourished himself from the goodness of Creation all around him.

During the forum, the pope also challenged the 250 delegates and young people everywhere to “… fight apathy and offer a Christian response to the social and political (we might add environmental) troubles emerging in different parts of the world” (CV 174). “[The Lord] loves you, dear young people … for you are the means by which he can spread light and hope, He is counting on your courage, your boldness and your enthusiasm” (CV 177).

If we want to live in a healed, peaceful common home, the Church must accompany young people as we journey together as stewards and brothers and sisters of one common family. As Pope Francis says, “Do not live on the balcony or be bystanders of life” (143). Go out, and be involved in healing this world!

Luke Henkel, Laudato Si’ Generation Member