At the end of the first week of the youth synod Saturday, Pope Francis and over 250 bishops spent the evening listening to testimonies from young people at an event inside the Vatican.
Speaking off-the-cuff at the end of the gathering Oct. 6, the pope told young people the way to “find themselves” is not by looking in the mirror, but by doing, by “going in search of goodness, of truth, of beauty.”
Referencing one testimony, he said a word which struck him was “consistency” and criticized a lack of it in the Church, saying he understand when young people are scandalized by “a Church that reads you the Beatitudes and then falls into the most princely and scandalous clericalism.”
“If you are a Christian, take the Beatitudes and put them into practice,” he said.
Pope Francis spoke to young people and others in a full Pope Paul VI hall, together with the Synod Fathers, for an event called “NOI PER – Unici, solidali, creativi,” organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment is meeting at the Vatican Oct. 3-28. A pre-synod gathering in March included around 300 youth participants and concluded with a document which was used, in part, to inform the synod’s Instrumentum laboris.
A Sept. press statement on the Oct. 6 event said Pope Francis wanted to meet with young people again, like he did at the pre-synod encounter, but this time together with Synod Fathers, so that they may listen to and consider the thoughts of young people before drafting the final document of the synod.
In his speech, after listening to live and video testimonies, including one from inside a juvenile detention center on the outskirts of Rome, the pope said real power must always be about service, “otherwise it is selfishness, it is dominating, making slaves, not mature people.”
He urged the young people present to remember that they “have no price,” that they are free and cannot be bought or sold. To not let themselves be “enslaved by ideological colonization that puts ideas in your mind.”
Francis also noted the difference between something being “popular” and “populism,” which he said promotes being closed off from others, promoting a mentality of the exploitation of people.
“We win with the embrace, with welcome, with dialogue, with love, which is the word that opens all doors,” he said.