Youth are sign of hope Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

After he returned from World Youth Day held in Poland, Pope Francis said at his general audience at the Vatican that in a world traumatized by war, young people gathered for World Youth Day gave strong signs of hope and brotherhood.

World Youth Day was a “prophetic sign for Poland and Europe” and took on a “global dimension” in a world threatened by war, Pope Francis said.

Sign of hope

“Precisely in this world at war, we need brotherhood, we need closeness, we need dialogue, and we need friendship. And this is the sign of hope: when there is brotherhood,” he said.

The report published in this week’s Catholic Herald about diocesan young people’s pilgrimage to World Youth Day underscores that feeling of friendship between people from the United States and other countries.

The youth from the Diocese of Madison said time and time again how impressed they were with their host families and people from parishes in Poland. The Polish people welcomed them warmly, providing them with hospitality. The young people were especially impressed with the delicious food prepared by their host families.

Even though there was a language barrier, the pilgrims were able to communicate with people from other nations. It must have been amazing to worship with over two million people from around the world, gathered with the Holy Father.

We are indeed all children of God, brothers and sisters. It’s too bad those who govern countries throughout the world can’t understand this basic concept. Perhaps if they did, we would not have a refugee problem or threats of violence.

Olympic athletes

Besides World Youth Day, I’ve also been impressed by the many young people participating in the Summer Olympics in Brazil.

It’s been interesting to note the signs of religious faith among many of the athletes, some of whom make the Sign of the Cross and seem to be praying before they compete. After they compete, some also seem to be pointing to God, grateful for the gifts He has given them.

As reported in this issue of the Catholic Herald, there are a number of athletes who are not afraid to talk about the influence of their faith in their lives. Many have attended Catholic schools and go to Mass every Sunday. It was interesting to hear that gold-medal winning gymnast Simone Biles does not train on Sundays so that she can attend church.

Friendly competitors

By and large, the Olympic athletes also seem to be friendly competitors with people from other countries. Seeing swimmers like Michael Phelps congratulating their competitors with a high-five or brief hug is heart-warming.

Let’s hope that these athletes will realize how important their influence is on other young people. They can do much to promote friendship and peace among people throughout the world.

Creating a mosaic

Pope Francis said that despite language barriers, at World Youth Day youth were able to understand each other, creating a “mosaic of brotherhood.”

Let’s hope and pray that our youth continue to create that mosaic as a sign of hope for the world and our Catholic Church in the future.