Below you will find the full text of Pope Francis' impromptu address to the youth in Paraguay:
Dear Young People, Good Afternoon!
After having read the Gospel, Orlando came up to me and said, “I ask you to pray for the freedom of each one of us, of everyone”. This is the blessing which Orlando asked for each one of us. It is the blessing which all of us together now pray for: freedom. Freedom is a gift that God gives us, but we have to know how to accept it. We have to be able to have a free heart, because we all know that in the world there are so many things that bind our hearts and prevent them from being free. Exploitation, lack of means to survive, drug addiction, sadness, all those things take away our freedom. And so we can all thank Orlando for having asked for this blessing of having a free heart, a heart that can say what it thinks, that can express what it feels, and can act according to how it thinks and feels. That is a free heart! And that is what we are going to ask for together: the blessing which Orlando requested for all. Repeat with me: “Lord Jesus, give me a heart that is free, that I may not be a slave to all the snares in the world. That I may not be a slave to comfort and deception. That I may not be a slave to the good life. That I may not be a slave to vice. That I may not be a slave to a false freedom, which means doing what I want at every moment”. Thank you Orlando, for making us realize that we need to ask God for a heart that is free. Ask him for this everyday!
We heard two testimonies: from Liz and from Manuel. Liz has taught us all something. Just as Orlando taught us how to pray for a heart that is free, Liz, by sharing her experience, teaches us that we must not be like Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of things. Liz could quite easily have put her mother into one home, and her grandmother into another home, and then gone on to enjoy her youth, following the path of studies she desired. But Liz said, “No, there is my mother, and my grandmother”. Liz became a servant, and much more: she became a servant for her mother and her grandmother. And she did it with such love! She did it to the point, as she herself said, that the roles were reversed in her family, and she ended up being a mother to her mother, in the way she cared for her. Her mother, with that cruel illness which confuses everything. She still gives herself fully, even today, at age twenty-five, serving her mother and her grandmother. All by herself? Not at all. She told us two things that can help us. She talked about an angel, an aunt who for her was like an angel; and she talked about getting together with her friends on weekends, with a youth group committed to evangelization, a youth group that strengthened her faith. And those two angels, the aunt who watched out for her and the youth group, gave her the strength to keep going. This is what we call solidarity. What do we call it? [The young people all respond: “Solidarity!”]. This happens when we take interest in other people’s problems. There she found a haven to rest her weary heart. But there’s something still missing here. She didn’t say: “I do this and that is it”. She studied. She is a nurse. And what helps her is the solidarity she received from you, from your youth group, the solidarity she received from that aunt who was like an angel. All these helped her move forward. And today, at age twenty-five, she enjoys the grace that Orlando showed us how to pray for: she has a free heart. Liz is obeying the Fourth Commandment: “Honor your Father and your Mother”. Liz offers her life in service to her mother. It is indeed a high degree of solidarity, the highest degree of love. This is witness. “Father, is it possible to love?” There you have a person who shows us how to love.
So first of all: freedom, a free heart. So all together: [The young people repeat each phrase.] First: a free heart. Second: a solidarity that accompanies. Solidarity. This is the lesson of this testimony. And Manuel was not a spoiled child. He is not “a good kid”. He was never a “kid”, a young person who had it easy in life. He used strong words: “I was taken advantage of, I was mistreated, I risked falling into addiction, and I was alone”. Exploitation, mistreatment, and loneliness. But instead of going out and getting in trouble, instead of going out to steal, he found a job. Instead of wanting to take revenge on life, he looked ahead. And Manuel used a beautiful phrase: “I could move forward because in the situation I was in, it was hard even to talk about a future”. How many young people, how many of you, today have the opportunity to study, to sit at the table with your family every day, not to worry about the essentials. How many of you enjoy this? Altogether, those of you who have these things, let us say, “Thank you Lord!” [The young people repeat the phrase]. We have here a testimony from a young man who from childhood knew what it was to feel pain, sadness, to be exploited, mistreated, not to have food and to be alone. Lord, save all those young people who are in those conditions! And for ourselves let us pray, “Thank you, Lord!”. Everyone: “Thank you, Lord!”.
Freedom of heart. Do you remember? Freedom of heart. That is what Orlando told us. And service and solidarity. That is what Liz told us. Hope, employment, making an effort to live and to move forward. That is what Manuel told us. As you can see, life is not easy for many young people. And I want you to understand this, and I want you to keep it always in mind: “If my life is relatively easy, there are other young men and women whose lives are not relatively easy”. What is more, desperation drives them to crime, drives them to get involved in corruption. To those young people we want to say that we are close to them, we want to lend them a helping hand, we want to support them, with solidarity, love, and hope.
There were two things that Liz and Manuel both said. Two things that are beautiful. Listen to them. Liz said that she began to know Jesus and that this meant opening the door to hope. And Manuel said: “I came to know God as my strength”. To know God is strength. In other words, to know God, to draw closer to Jesus, is hope and strength. And that is what we need from young people today: young people full of hope and strength. We don’t want “namby-pambies”, young people who are just there, lukewarm, unable to say either yes or no. We don’t want young people who tire quickly and who are always weary, with bored faces. We want young people who are strong. We want young people full of hope and strength. Why? Because they know Jesus, because they know God. Because they have a heart that is free. A heart that is free, please repeat this. [The young people repeat each word]. Solidarity, work, hope, effort. To know Jesus. To know God, my strength. Can a young person who lives this way have a bored look on his face? [“No”!]. A sad heart? [“No!”]. This then is the path! But it is a path that requires sacrifice, it requires going against the tide. The plan... The plan is to go against the tide. Jesus said: “Happy are those who are poor in spirit”. He does not say, “Happy are the rich, those who make lots of money”. No. Those who are poor in spirit, those who are capable of approaching and understanding those who are poor. Jesus does not say: “Happy are those who have a good time of it”, but rather: “Happy are those who can suffer for the pain of others”. I would ask you to read at home, later on, the Beatitudes, which are in the fifth chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel. Which chapter? [“The fifth!”] Which Gospel? [“Saint Matthew!”]. Read them and think about them; they will do you a lot of good.
I must thank you Liz; I thank you, Manuel, and I thank you, Orlando. A free heart, which is the way it should be. I have to go now [“No!”] The other day, a priest jokingly said to me: “Yes, keep telling young people to make a ruckus. But afterwards, we are the ones who have to clear it up”. So make a ruckus! But also help in cleaning it up. Two things: make a ruckus, but do a good job of it! A ruckus that brings a free heart, a ruckus that brings solidarity, a ruckus that brings us hope, a ruckus that comes from knowing Jesus and knowing that God, once I know him, is my strength. That is the kind of ruckus which you should make.
I already knew your questions, because I had them beforehand, so I wrote down some words for you, to share with you. But it’s boring to read a speech, so I am leaving it with the bishop in charge of the youth apostolate so that he can publish it. And now, before going [“No!”], I ask you, first of all, to continue to pray for me; second, that you carry on creating a ruckus; and third, that you organize that ruckus without ruining anything. And together now, in silence, let us raise our hearts to God. Each from the heart, in a quiet voice, let us repeat these words:
“Lord Jesus, I thank you for being here, I thank you because you gave me brothers and a sister like Manuel, Orlando, and Liz. I thank you because you have given us many brothers and sisters like them. They found you, Jesus. They know you, Jesus. They know that you, their God, are their strength. Jesus, I pray for all those young boys and girls who do not know that you are their strength and who are afraid to live, afraid to be happy, afraid to have dreams. Jesus, teach them how to dream, to dream big, to dream beautiful things, things which, although they seem ordinary, are things which enlarge the heart. Lord Jesus, give us strength. Give us a free heart. Give us hope. Give us love and teach us how to serve. Amen.”
And now I will give you my blessing and I ask you please, to pray for me and to pray for all the many young people who do not have the grace which you have had: the grace of knowing Jesus, who gives you hope, who gives you a free heart, and who makes you strong.
Note from Fr. Thomas Rosica:
As promised in the previous bulletin, I am sending you a summary of Pope Francis’ unscripted remarks to over 600,000 young people gathered the riverfront near the Presidential Palace for the final event of his Apostolic Journey. The meeting consisted of an allegorical representation of the situation of young people today. Responding to questions from the testimony of a young woman and man, Liz and Manuel, and a third young man, Orlando, who read the Gospel of the Beatitudes, Pope Francis set aside his prepared remarks saying: "speeches are boring." He than gave a stirring address to the huge crowd.
Allow me to speak as one who led a World Youth Day in Canada in 2002, and one who has worked on several World Youth Days and large youth events in several countries. I have never experienced anything as I did this evening. Pope Francis connected with the crowd, and indeed with young people around the world. This evening’s meeting with young people was a fitting conclusion to a remarkable homecoming of sorts for a man whom the Cardinals chose from the ends of the earth in 2013. Thanks to the ZENIT International News Service for this report. A full transcipt of the Pope’s remarks will be forthcoming.
Pope Urges Paraguayan Youth to Pray for a Free Heart
Tells Them They Will Have to Go Against the Current,
Depend on Jesus Who Gives Strength and Hope
Paraguay, July 12, 2015 – On the Riverfront
Pope Francis wrapped up his nine-day, three-nation apostolic trip to South America this evening amid the exuberant enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands of Paraguayan young people. The Holy Father spoke to them entirely off-the-cuff, joking that "discourses are boring," and asking that his prepared text be made available for later reflection.
He spoke briefly, drawing largely from the testimonies of two young people who shared their stories. The first, a young woman named Liz, explained that she is 25 years old and is caring for her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and her grandmother. Her mother, she said, thinks that their roles are reversed and that she (the mother) is the child of her daughter. She explained how she has to help her to shower, to change her diapers and care for her.
The second person who spoke, a young man named Manuel, explained how when he was a child, he had to leave his parent’s home and go to the capital city to work, because his parents could not support him. There in the capital, he was mistreated and exploited. Now at the age of 18, after meeting God through a youth ministry, he says he is ready to serve others.
When the Pope began speaking, he explained that the young man who read the Gospel after the testimonies, a youth named Orlando, when he came to greet the Pope after the reading, asked him to pray for the grace of liberty for each person present.
"Liberty is a gift that God gives but we have to know how to receive it," the Holy Father said. He explained that we have to learn how to have a free heart, since in the world, there are so many ties that bind the heart: Exploitation, a lack of things needed to survive, drug addiction, sadness. "All these things take away our liberty."
He led the youth in a prayer: "Lord Jesus, give me a free heart," he prayed, "that I might not be a slave to all the traps of the world, that I might not be a slave to comfort, to deception, that I might not be a slave of the good life, … a slave of vice … a slave of a false liberty, which is doing what I like in every moment."
Francis told the young people to ask for this grace every day.
Then drawing from the testimony of the young woman, he said that she gives the lesson of not being like Pontius Pilate. He noted how easy it would be to put her mom in one care home, her grandma in another, and to live her young life carefree.
Instead, she became as a servant, he said, and serves with affection. "And this is called solidarity. when we take up the burdens of others," he said. She has the grace that Orlando asked for, the Pontiff said, the grace of a free heart. She has a very high level of solidarity, he said, a very high level of love. "There is someone who teaches us to love."
Turning then to Manuel’s testimony, he led the crowd in a prayer of gratitude, reminding them that so many youth do not have the opportunity to study, to have their meals provided by their family, to have what they need.
"As you see, life is not easy for many youth. I want you to understand this. I want you to get this in your head," he said. If for me, life has been relatively easy, there are many youth for whom it hasn’t been easy.
Francis continued, noting how both of those who spoke mentioned knowing Jesus. "I began to get to know Jesus. To know Jesus. And this is to open the door to hope. I got to know Jesus, my strength," he said, citing the youths. "To know Jesus is fortitude. To know Jesus is hope and fortitude. And this is what we need of young people today."
He urged the youth to flee from being young people of "neither yes nor no," who live tired, with a face of boredom. We need young people who are strong, with hope and strength. Who have hope and strength because they know Jesus and know God. Because they have a free heart.
"But for this," the Pope cautioned, "you need sacrifice. You have to go against the current. The Beatitudes that we read a bit ago are Jesus’ plan for us. And it is a plan against the current."
He told the young people to go home and read the Beatitudes. "They are in the fifth chapter of Matthew," he said, and then tested the youth to see if they were listening: "What chapter?" and they responded, "fifth." "Of which Gospel?" "Of Matthew."
In this last event of the Pope’s apostolic trip in Paraguay, the Holy Father told the young people, "I have to go."
"No!" they shouted back.
But the Pontiff brought them to silence as he led them again in prayer: "Everyone now in silence, we are going to lift up our hearts, each one," he said. Lord Jesus, I thank you because I am here. Thank you because you gave me brothers such as Liz and Manuel. … Jesus I pray for the young people who don’t know that you are their strength and are afraid of living, of being happy, who are afraid of dreaming."
"Jesus teaches us to dream," he said, "to dream big, to dream of wonderful things. … Jesus gives us strength, gives us a free heart, gives us hope, gives us love."
"Pray for me," he concluded, "and for so many people who don’t have the grace that you have, of having known Jesus."
Several minutes later, after a farewell ceremony with the president at the airport, just before 7:30 local time, the Pope boarded the plane that is taking him back to Rome. The Alitalia flight is scheduled to arrive after 1:00 p.m.Rome time Monday afternoon.
CNS photo/Paul Haring