During the visit, the pope answered four questions, among them a question about young people and what he thought about the pre-synod meeting of over 300 young adults which took place in Rome in March ahead of the Synod of Bishops on young people and discernment.
He said that he had a good impression of the pre-synodal meeting and noted the participants’ hard work during the week to create the pre-synod document, which he said was “very beautiful… strong.”
The young people present “had courage to speak” and “really wanted to speak seriously,” he said.
Immediately following the Q&A, the pope gave a prepared speech, in which he spoke about what Catholics can learn from the Israelite’s exodus from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.
“The story of Exodus speaks of slavery, of an exit, of a passage, of an alliance, of a temptation and an entrance. But it is a journey,” he said.
The pope’s meeting with the Diocese of Rome concluded a period of reflection by the parishes and prefectures of Rome on “spiritual diseases,” which was begun during Lent.
“As you will have understood, I am inviting you to undertake another stage of the journey of the Church of Rome,” he said. “In a certain sense a new exodus, a new departure, which renews our identity as God’s people, without regrets for what we must leave.”
This period of self-reflection should lead to discernment of where God is present, even “in very ordinary forms of holiness,” he said, such as those people who are already living the Gospel in friendship with the Lord.
It will also be necessary, he continued, to listen to the cry of the people, as Moses was urged to do, “knowing how to interpret, in the light of the Word of God, the social and cultural phenomena in which you are immersed.”
Reflecting on weaknesses and sharing those with others may take time, Francis said, but having done it, Catholic communities and individuals are better prepared to serve others because they have felt and experienced the “gift of mercy and fullness of life for us and for all.”
The pope explained that Christ has loved everyone and continues to love everyone, demonstrating his care for people’s lives, that they are not “creatures abandoned to their destiny and their slavery. That everything is for our conversion and for our good.”
He also stated that Catholics should understand the truth that God did not make any mistake in putting him or her in this place at this time and with these challenges, and that if they find themselves “in a condition of slavery,” it was brought about by a dependence on created things.
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The journey to the Promised Land was long for the Israelites – “40 years, eh?” – but they did not get tired, he said, inviting the Catholics of Rome to “spend some time” preparing to “reach the new land that the column of cloud and fire” will reveal.
“New conditions of life and pastoral action... To no longer be afraid of what we are and of the gift we have, but to make it fruitful,” he urged.