Many of you know that I was in Kraków, Poland, for World Youth Day (WYD), which many of you followed on TV. It was a great and marvelous experience to see how all of the young Catholic people gathered from different parts of the world to celebrate their faith together, and their commitment to what we believe.
During my time in Poland, someone asked me what I thought was the most important aspect of WYD. Many people may think that it is the fact that our Pope was present with the youth; but I personally think that the most important thing is that our youth were able to see other young people like them. When our youth go to Mass on Sunday, sometimes they look around and they may see that they are the only young people at Mass, and maybe the only young people in the Church, that this place is not for them, just for adults and elderly people; that they stand alone.
When they see millions of people their age singing in the streets, praying, worshiping and giving witness to what they believe, they know that they are not alone in professing their faith; they know that in every country and in every parish they do not stand alone. There are millions like them who are living their faith and professing their commitment to what they believe. They understand that the church is not dying, as some people may think, and that they are the future of the Church.
Sometimes, although we know all these things, to be able to see them is a wonderful experience and assurance for our young people: that they do not stand alone in the Church, that our Church is full of youth and energy and, most importantly, full of faith.
This is what they come to know: that in other parts of the state, the country and the world there are people just like them, with all their fears, concerns, challenges, and with the same desire for greatness – and now with the certainty that they are not alone. They know and they see that they are part of something greater than themselves, larger than their own parish, bigger than their own country… they see that their Church is really universal… and it is young.
Looking at millions of young people gathered together, I am, like so many others, inspired, because we see in them the future, not only of the world but a future that is found in Faith.