The Church and its teaching must be presented to the youth as a friend and not as an obstacle to their freedom, Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday evening at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.
The Holy Father inaugurated the diocesan ecclesial congress on Tuesday, which is being held from June 5 to 8 on the theme: "The joy of faith and the education of new generations."
“Educating new generations in the faith is a great and fundamentally important task that involves the entire Christian community,” one that has become “particularly difficult” today and, hence, is “even more important and urgent,” the Pope said.
According to the Pontiff, the new generations must experience that the Church “is a company of friends, one that is truly trustworthy and remains close in all the moments and circumstances of life and that will never abandon us even in death, because it carries in itself the promise of eternity.”
Young people and adolescents, the Pope went on, “must be disabused of the widespread prejudice that Christianity, with its commandments and its prohibitions, places too many obstacles to the joy of love, and in particular that it prevents the full enjoyment of the happiness that man and woman find in their mutual love.”
“The Ten Commandments are not a series of 'No', but a big 'Yes' to love and to life,” the Pontiff stated.
“Human love,” he continued, “must be purified, it must mature and go beyond its own limits in order to become truly human, to be the origin of true and lasting joy, to respond to that demand for eternity it carries within itself and which it cannot relinquish without betraying itself.”
Benedict XVI insisted that the issue of truth “must occupy a central position.” In the faith, he said, “we welcome and accept the Truth that our minds cannot fully understand, that they cannot posses." This "enables us to arrive at the Mystery in which we are immersed and to rediscover in God the definitive meaning of our existence.”
“In the extent to which we nourish ourselves from Christ and love Him, we also feel within ourselves the stimulus to bring others to Him”.
“Indeed,” he continued, “we cannot keep the joy of the faith to ourselves, we must transmit it.”
“This need becomes even stronger and more impelling in the presence of that strange forgetfulness of God that exists today in vast areas of the world,” he said in conclusion.