World Youth Day provides a “unique experience” that enables people to connect with individuals from all over the world and fosters relationships between citizens of nations that may be in conflict with each other.
This was exemplified recently by groups of Catholic Indians and Pakistanis who met in Lisbon.
According to Fr. Godfrey Malu from the Archdiocese of Mumbai, they had a positive interaction with young Pakistanis who were delighted to meet them. Despite being from different nations with unresolved problems and border tensions, they felt united as one body of the Church during this occasion.
Over one million young people from around the globe participated in the XXXVII World Youth Day in Lisbon from 2nd to 6th of August, responding to Pope Francis’ call.
Throughout the event, the Pope emphasized the importance of peace, dialogue, and breaking down barriers even in areas of conflict and violence.
During his official engagements at the WYD, the Pope had two-morning appointments. He first greeted a group of Ukrainian girls and boys at the nunciature, expressing his support and prayers for them during difficult times.
Then, he met with university students at the “Universidade Católica Portuguesa,” where he encouraged them to embrace their role as pilgrims in life, seeking answers to profound questions and taking risks in their pursuit of knowledge and growth.
Referring to the Portuguese poet Pessoa, Pope Francis encouraged the students not to be afraid of uncertainty and to replace fears with dreams. He urged them to use their education not just for personal gain but as a mandate to contribute to a more just and inclusive society.
The Pope particularly highlighted the crucial role of women and applauded the addition of Chiara’s figure to the chair dedicated to the Economy of Francis, recognizing the indispensable feminine contribution.
After the meeting with university students, the Pope joined the young people of Scholas Occurrentes in Cascais. The Scholas Occurrentes is an International Educational Movement of Pontifical Right created by Pope Francis, aiming to promote a culture of encounter.
The project “Life between the worlds” seeks to embody the Pope’s vision by highlighting the importance of the “between” – where people connect, and life regains its meaning.
World Youth Day provides a unique opportunity for global connections and unity, as exemplified by the encounter between Indian and Pakistani Catholic youths.
The Pope’s message throughout the event emphasized the importance of peace, dialogue, and embracing challenges for personal and societal growth.
The Pope also celebrated the crucial role of women in society and supported efforts to create a culture of encounter through the Scholas Occurrentes project.