By Francesca Merlo
“I join you with my heart”, said Pope Francis when addressing the “numerous” young Catholics gathered to celebrate Youth Day in Vietnam’s northern Dioceses.
Pope Francis said that his message “revolves around the word ‘home’”. A word, which, he explained, is part of the theme of this Youth Day: “Go to your home, to your family” (Mk 5:15).
Pope Francis went on to explain that “in the Vietnamese culture”, no word is as wonderful as the word “home”. It includes everything that is most highly valued by a person: “not only family and parenthood, but also birthplace and homeland”.
Wherever you go, continued the Pope, you will take your “home” with you. “’Go to your home’, therefore, means going on a journey that brings you back to your origins and deepens your traditional and cultural heritage”, he said.
Pope Francis then went on to specify that, through baptism, “you are heirs to another ‘home’, a bigger home, the Church.” The Church is a home, he continued, adding “your home”. It is a home that you will always be able to return to in order to find “strength and inpiration” based on God’s call, said the Pope.
Pope Francis then recalled that the Vietnamese Church is one born of generous and enthusiastic martyrs. May these first Christians “guide you”, he said, and may “your gratitude towards them always be the source of a missionary enthusiasm”.
“It is now up to you”, said Pope Francis, to build a “young and joyful Church-home”, full of life and fraternity. The three characteristics necessary to fulfill this task, he said, are “honesty, responsibility and optimism”. All three, “accompanied by discernment”.
The Pope explained that in this society, “it is difficult to be faithful to one's own identity and faith without the capacity for discernment”.
He acknowledged that honesty may often cause disadvantages, a sense of responsibility may cause discomfort and that optimism may appear strange “in the face of the corrupt realities of society”. However, he added, “these very values are what your society, and also your Church need from you.”
Finally Pope Francis urged the youth in Vietnam not to be afraid of allowing their “beautiful Catholic identity” to “shine forth”, and expressed his hope that “the Servant of God, Cardinal Van Thuan” would give them support in loving their people and their country.