WYD Panama: Pope Francis, Youth, and “listening therapy”
By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
It was lunchtime when Pope Francis finished celebrating Mass with priests, religious and members of lay movements in the Cathedral of Santa Maria La Antigua. Anxiously waiting to join him at
The lunch with the young people was a private occasion. But it was followed later in the day by a press conference, led by the ad interim Director of the Vatican Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti. Speaking to Vatican News, Gisotti describes the new kind of listening between young people and the Church.
“The message the young people are delivering to Pope Francis”, says Gisotti, “is that we need to be listened to. The theme of listening is very present in this pontificate”, he says. In
“Young people are saying every day with their every gesture, in every important moment of this World Youth Day, that they want to be listened to”, he says. “They want adults to take them seriously”. Gisotti is convinced young people have found “an incredible ally” in Pope Francis, precisely because he takes them so seriously.
The private lunch is a traditional element in the WYD tradition. What struck Alessandro
“I spoke with him after the lunch”, says Gisotti, “and he told me how important it was for him to listen to these young people, even when it wasn’t easy to answer their questions”. “Listening is a gift”, he continues, “not only for the
A common dynamic
The ad interim Director of the Vatican Press Office sees this World Youth Day as a natural continuation of last year’s Synod of Bishops on Youth. He describes it as being like “the second half of a match”. Gisotti says there’s a common ”dynamic” between the two. Young people, he says, “are changing the way we go forward”. The Holy Father recognizes the contribution young people can make to the Church. In fact, he always underlines how it was “not only a Synod of Bishops about youth…but with youth.”
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