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Pope Francis in Naples: Meeting with youth

Pope Francis in Naples: Meeting with youth

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis denounced a hidden euthanasia of elderly telling thousands of young people gathered on Naples waterfront that family affection is the best medicine for the elderly, solitude their worst poison.

Some 100 thousand young people gathered on Naples waterfront in what was Pope Francis’ last appointment on his busy one day pastoral visit to the southern Italian Campania region.

Greeted to cheers shouted in the local dialect on arriving on the stage the Pope took the microphone to encourage the crowd to shout the name of Jesus and proclaim their faith in Him and not that of the Pope.

Then in what has become the Pope’s preferred form of encounter, people were invited to pose questions for him to answer.  As he responded to the first question on how to recognize God in today’s world, he apologized for reaming seated, confessing his tiredness after a hectic day.

“Our God is a God of words,  gestures and silences”, he replied pointing to the parable of the Good Shepherd.  He is a God who knows us better then we know ourselves,  who speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. But God can’t speak to us if we are not silent, if we do not silently gaze at the Crucifix. We can draw near to the silence of God by contemplating Christ crucified abandoned.

God did create us to be happy, but that does not mean that everything in life will be perfect if we believe in Him. The Pope said one of the great silences of God regards why do children suffer. We can’t always understand the silence of God, so “we have to get closer to Christ on the cross”.

The second question, posed by an elderly women, was about the integration of the elderly into society today so they are not left alone or abandoned.

In his response Pope Francis roundly condemned the throw away culture of today with discards not only the elderly but also children and the unborn, which considers children useless and the affection of a cat or dog preferable.

He also clearly condemned a society which sees euthanasia as a solution to the ills of old age. However, not just ‘technical euthanasia’ administered with an injection, the Pope also spoke of a ‘hidden euthanasia’, when old people are denied medicine, food, the affection of their family. Solitude, said Pope Francis is the great poison of the old. And he urged all present with elderly parents to examine their conscience, and think of when was the last time they phoned or visited them.

The Third question regarded ideological attacks on family, to which Pope Francis replied “The family is in crisis. It’s true. But it’s not new. He said marriage and family life isn’t like learning a language – eight lessons and you’re fluent. It takes time. And must be well prepared. Above all he concluded it requires the witness of married couples, who can teach young people how to face and resolve problems together.

Taking his leave of the crowds as the sun set over the Bay of Naples, the Pope said that youth and elderly must remain united. The youth have the strength. The elderly have the memory and the wisdom.

“Today is the first day of Spring. Pray for young people. For their future. For hope”.

(from Vatican Radio)