As part of his pastoral visit to Brescia, Italy, Pope Benedict stopped by the town of Concesio, where his predecessor Paul VI was born. He then continued on to the new headquarters of the Paul VI Institute where he gave a talk emphasizing his predecessor’s commitment to the youth and his challenge to them to follow Christ.
Benedict recalled that Pope Paul VI, “student and priest, bishop and Pope, was always aware of the need for a qualified Christian presence in the world of culture, art and civil society, a presence rooted in the truth of Christ and, at the same time, attentive to man and his vital needs.”
Noting that “Paul VI defined himself as an 'elderly friend of the young,'” Pope Benedict said of his predecessor, “He was able to recognize and share their torment as they were torn between the desire to live, the need for certainty, the longing for love, the sense of being lost, the temptation to skepticism and the experience of disillusionment.”
Pope Paul VI “learned to understand their hearts, and recalled that the agnostic indifference of modern thought, critical pessimism and the materialist ideology of social progress are not enough for the spirit, which is open to completely different horizons of truth and life.”
Though Pope Paul VI was often misunderstood, and was consequently attacked by the strong cultural movements of the time, “he never lost faith in the young, renewing in them, and not only in them, the invitation to trust in Christ and to follow Him along the path of the Gospel,” said Benedict.
The Holy Father concluded his address by expressing the hope that the love Pope Paul VI had for the young, a love expressed by Pope John Paul II, and renewed by Benedict himself at the beginning of his pontificate, “may be perceived by the new generations.”