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Pope Francis told the young people that their pilgrimage to Rome gave them the opportunity to “revive within themselves the gift of faith”, as they remembered the Apostles St Peter and St Paul, and the many witnesses —“including young people” — “who suffered martyrdom for choosing to remain faithful to Jesus Christ”. Some people, the Pope said, think that it is more difficult to be Christian and live the faith than it was in the past. But Pope Francis insisted that being Christian now is different from previous eras, but not more difficult.

The Holy Father encouraged the French youth to take advantage of their pilgrimage “to rediscover the Church” to which they belong; a Church which, for two thousand years “has advanced along her pilgrim way, sharing ‘the joys and the hopes, the grief and anguish’ of all humanity’.”

Photo: Young people from the Diocese of Aire and Dax met with Pope Francis on Thursday, during a pilgrimage to Rome as part of Youth Days for the Landes region of France.

“In fact”, he continued, “seeing you I recognize the work of the Lord Jesus who does not abandon His Church, and that allows her, thanks to your youth, your enthusiasm, and the talents He has entrusted to you, to renew herself and to be rejuvenated in the various phases of her long history”.

Pope Francis encouraged them “to remain united to the Lord Jesus by means of listening to the Word, the practice of the sacraments, the fraternal life, and through service to others”. In the Church, he said, “you can recognize the message of Jesus that God wants to offer to the world through what is unique in your life”.

He called on them to always be “builders of bridges between people, seeking to advance a ‘culture of encounter and of dialogue, in order to contribute to the coming of an authentic human fraternity’.” By caring for the smallest and poorest amongst us, the Pope told them, “you can light stars in the night of the many who are tried in various ways”.

“I’m counting on you!” Pope Francis said. “The Church needs your spirit, your intuitions, your faith, your courage!”

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