.- In a message sent to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, currently gathered to discuss "Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with Children and Young People in an Age of Turbulence", Pope Benedict lamented a societal deficit of faith, hope and love, and urged parents and community leaders to help often isolated children to choose life and truth.
The Academy’s plenary session is being held at the Vatican from April 28th to May 2nd.
The Holy Father began his message by pointing to "two significant and interconnected trends: on the one hand, an increase in life expectancy, and, on the other, a decrease in birth rates."
"This situation”, he continued, “is the result of multiple and complex causes- often of an economic, social and cultural character - which you have proposed to study…But its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual; they are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope and, indeed, love.”
The Pope opined that “the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail,and why birth rates have significantly diminished."
"Instead of feeling loved and cherished,” he said, children and young people often “appear to be merely tolerated.”
“In 'an age ofturbulence’”, he added, “they frequently lack adequate moral guidance from the adult world," and many of them "now grow up in a society which is forgetful of God. ... In a world shaped by the accelerating processes of globalization, they are often exposed solely tomaterialistic visions of the universe, of life and human fulfillment."
Benedict stressed that "Parents, educators and community leaders ... can never renounce their duty to set before children and young people the task of choosing a life project directed towards authentic happiness, one capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil,justice and injustice, the real world and the world of 'virtual reality'."
The pontiff alsourged the conference participants to give "due consideration to thequestion of human freedom,” which is "the condition for authentic humangrowth.”
“Where such freedom is lacking or endangered,” he explained, “young people experience frustration and become incapable of striving generously forthe ideals which can give shape to their lives as individuals and asmembers of society."
The Pope concluded his message by saying that Christians must not fail "to be convinced that faith, lived out in the fullness of charity and communicated to new generations, is an essential element in thebuilding of a better future and safeguarding intergenerational solidarity."