By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis on Friday met with the members of the Chemin Neuf Community and its Politics Fraternity.
Addressing them, the Pope thanked them for making the journey to Rome despite the limitations caused by the pandemic and extended his warm greetings to the young people from various countries who benefit from the expertise and accompaniment of the Chemin Neuf Community.
The Chemin Neuf Community is a Catholic community of couples, consecrated brothers and sisters, women and men from different cultures who have chosen to live in community following Christ with an ecumenical vocation. Its Politics Fraternity, established in 2014 in France, brings together young people between the ages of 18 -35 from different countries and political leanings, who share the same passion for the common good and desire to be active in politics according to the heart of God.
Commitment to service of the poor
Pope Francis joined them to give thanks to God for the work of his Spirit manifested in their “human and spiritual journey” in service of the poor who are often ignored and rejected in the pursuit of possessions, careers, honors and power.
This journey, the Pope noted, is one made “by rejecting poverty and working for a more just and fraternal world.” For this reason, the Pope hopes that their commitment to the service of others, shaped by the Gospel, “will restore a taste for life and hope in the future to many people, especially the young.”
The lay vocation
Reiterating his message in his 2019 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, the Pope reminded the Chemin Neuf members that the lay vocation is “directed above all to charity within the family and to social and political charity.”
“It is a concrete and faith-based commitment to the building of a new society,” he added. “It involves living in the midst of society and the world in order to bring the Gospel everywhere, to work for the growth of peace, harmony, justice, human rights and mercy, and thus for the extension of God’s kingdom in this world.”
The Pope pointed out that it is in this dynamic that they walk, “with an ecumenical openness and a heart willing to welcome different cultures and traditions, in order to transform the face of our society.”
The Holy Father went on to encourage them not to be afraid to “walk the paths of fraternity and to build bridges between peoples,” especially in our world where walls are still being built out of fear for others.
He noted that through their work, they make visible “a poor Church with and for the poor, an outgoing Church” close to people who are in situations of suffering, marginalization and exclusion. He also reminded them that our concern for the abandoned in society comes from our faith in Christ who became poor and is always close to the poor and excluded.
Ecological conversion, care for migrants
In the face of the ecological challenges facing our common home, the Pope stressed the need for an ecological conversion “that recognizes the eminent dignity of each person, his or her own worth, creativity and capacity to seek and promote the common good.”
He pointed out that the ongoing pandemic teaches that we are all in the same boat and we can only overcome if we work together.
In this regard, Pope Francis underscored the importance of reflecting on the presence of migrants and their reception in Europe, which is the object of the meeting of the Chemin Neuf Community in these days, in Rome.
“When we speak of migrants and displaced persons too often we stop at numbers,” Pope Francis lamented. “But it's not about numbers, it's about people! If we meet them we will get to know them. And by knowing their stories we will be able to understand.”
Be that flame that revives hope
Concluding his address, the Holy Father invited the Chemin Neuf Community to remain firm in their convictions and faith, never forgetting that “Christ is alive and he calls [them] to walk courageously after Him.” He urged them, to “be that flame” that revives hope in the hearts of discouraged young people and prayed that they may generate “bonds of friendship and fraternal sharing for a better world.”
“The Lord counts on your boldness, your courage and your enthusiasm,” the Pope said.
Finally, Pope Francis imparted a blessing on them and entrusted each one of the members of the Chemin Neuf Community, their families and all the young people they meet, to the intercession of Our Lady and the protection of St. Ignatius of Loyola.