VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2004 (VIS) - Last evening Pope John Paul welcomed the bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Bordeaux and Poitiers in France as they conclude their "ad limina" visit. He centered his talk to them in the pastoral ministry for young people, highlighting the need for a solid human and spiritual formation at all age levels, especially given "the complex and difficult framework in which young people live today."
"Their cultural universe," said the Pope, "is marked by new communications technologies which often create difficulties for their relations with the world, the times and with others, and which shape their behavior. That creates a culture of the immediate and the ephemeral, which is not always favorable to careful study nor to an inner growth or moral discernment. However, (use of) the new media" also offers interesting possibilities "that one cannot deny." He noted, for example, that dioceses use internet sites, many directed to the young, to inform and to form them.
The Holy Father underscored "the many ruptures in society today that make young people fragile: family separations, . breaks in social bonds, . the disintegration of the family unit," and other precarious situations. He emphasized the evolution of "disquieting mentalities," including "exacerbated subjectivity, excessive freedom from habits that let young people think that all behavior, just because it can be done, is good, a serious lessening of a moral sense." Young people at times "give the impression of having entered adulthood too soon because of their acquaintances and their behavior, and of not having had the time to mature physically, intellectually, emotionally and morally."
"As pastors you are attentive to these realities, knowing the generosity of the young who are ready to work for just causes and are anxious to find happiness." He said that education was key in forming young people, be it at the level of the family, the parish or schools. France has a history of great educators, he pointed out. "I invite you, despite few means, not to be sparing in your efforts in the educational field."
John Paul II stressed that "young people aspire to live in groups where they are known and loved," first and foremost the family, then friends and, not least of all, he said, the diocesan community, remarking that "the presence of adults other than relatives is often beneficial." He encouraged Catholic schools to be communities that always impart Christian values and transmit the Magisterium to young people.
"The pastoral ministry for the young," the Pope went on, "calls for those who accompany them to be perseverant, attentive and inventive. Never hesitate to use quality priests for this who have a good formation and a spiritual and moral life beyond reproach." He underscored that living the faith and the sacramental life is far more "than just one activity among many others in one's life."
Pope John Paul then turned to the question of young people who are preparing for marriage, noting that many have known suffering in their own family situations. "In society, many various models of relationships exist without
any anthropological or qualification. . The Church repeats that marriage between a man and woman, and a family are built above all on a strong bond between the persons and on a definitive commitment, not on the purely emotional aspect which cannot be the only basis for married life. May pastors and Christian couples be not afraid to help young people to reflect on this delicate and essential questions."
AL/YOUTH/FRANCE VIS 20040216 (590)