By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
The words of the Archbishop of Panama were music to the ears of the young people gathered for the Mass inaugurating the 34th World Youth Day: “We believe in you. We hope in you”, he said. “The change and transformation that humanity and the Church requires are in your hands”.
It fell to Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, as Metropolitan Archbishop of Panama, to celebrate the Mass that marked the official opening of WYD celebrations. His homily was a summary of his own, and of the young peoples’, expectations for this event which takes place, at the international level, every three years.
Openness to hearing God
One of the key passages of the Archbishop’s homily was a confession: “Sometimes we adults think that young people don’t want to listen”, he said. “You need direction and accompaniment from us”, he continued, “but, above all, for us to listen to you”. Archbishop Mendieta continued by admitting that young people are “not easily impressed”.
“Young people search for witnesses”, he said, “references filled with content and experience”. Rather than listening to someone talking about God, “you search for someone to show you God with their life”, he said.
Saints to transform reality
The Archbishop of Panama quoted Pope Francis who frequently invites young people to “go against the flow” as they try to live holy and transformed lives. The Pope often says that “holiness has its risks, challenges and opportunities”. But “we can all be saints”, said the Archbishop.
He then went on to give a definition of sanctity: “A saint defends migrants, seeks justice, prays, lives, and love their community, is joyful and has a sense of humour, always struggles, gets out of mediocrity, lives the mercy of God, and shares with their neighbour”.
The DOCAT: an instrument for formation
Finally, Archbishop Mendieta announced a special gift to the young people on behalf of the Pope: the DOCAT Book and App, an instrument that he said will strengthen young leadership by making them more familiar with the Social Doctrine of the Church.
“This is a dream of Pope Francis”, he added, “that we also want you young pilgrims to take on, because one way of dealing with adversities…is knowing the social thought of the Church, in order to make the revolution of love and justice a reality”.