The Holy Father responded to five questions from the young delegates. Vatican News reports:
How can young people help victims of human trafficking?
The Pope described this abuse, and even torture, as the slavery of today. The Pope went on to denounce the evil of exploiting women. He had especially strong words for baptized Catholics who pay for prostitutes. This is a crime against humanity, he said. Pope Francis called on young people to fight for the dignity of women, and concluded by asking forgiveness for all the Catholics who take part in these criminal acts.
Where should a young person look for guidance in making life choices?
The wise person, he said, is the one who is not scared of anything, but who knows how to listen and has the God-given gift of saying the right thing at the right time. The Pope warned that when young people fail to find their path of discernment, they risk shutting themselves off. This can become like carrying a cancer inside, he said. And this risks weighing them down and taking away their freedom.
How can we teach young people to be open to their neighbour and to the transcendent?
Pope Francis said education should teach three basic languages: the head, heart, and hands. The language of the head means thinking well and learning concrete things. That of the heart means understanding feelings and sentiments. The language of the hands is making use of the gifts God has given us to create new things. The key, he said, is to use all three together.
How is a young person preparing for the priesthood to respond to the complexities of present-day culture – like tattoos, for instance?
The question, from a young Ukrainian seminarian, spurred the Holy Father to reflect on the priest as a witness to Christ. He said, however, that Clericalism is one of the worst illnesses of the Church because it confuses the paternal role of the priest with the managerial role of the boss. As for tattoos, don’t be afraid of them but use them as a way to start a conversation.
How can young women religious balance the dominant culture in society and the spiritual life in accomplishing their mission?
The Pope stressed the importance of helping people to mature affectively, noting that sometimes young people are formed spiritually but other areas are neglected in an effort to protect them. However, this results in deformation. It is vital to have formation in four pillars: intellectual, communitarian, apostolic and spiritual.
There are approximately 300 participants physically present for the pre-Synodal Meeting in Rome, but youth from other parts of the world can also participate through the internet. More information is available on the Meeting website.