Pope: Christianity has an answer for those yearning for love

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christianity is not a set of rules and prohibitions designed to control people; it is a “life project capable of expanding every human heart,” Pope Francis told 70 young leaders of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

Young leaders from communities outside India, the seat of the Syro-Malabar Church, made a pilgrimage to Rome and met Pope Francis on June 18.

Pope Francis called on young people to build their lives on the solid foundation of the love of Christ and to bear witness to him with their peers, whether Catholic or not.

“There is common ground on which all young people can meet, and that is the desire for an authentic, beautiful and deep love,” the pope told them.

“Please don’t be afraid of this kind of love,” he said. “It is the love which Jesus reveals to us, and which Saint Paul describes as ‘patient and kind,’ which does not insist on its own way but rejoices in the truth.”

Such love is seen in the lives of saints and is also present today, if people know where to look, Pope Francis told them.

True love, he said, “shows – more than any word – that Christianity does not consist of a series of prohibitions that stifle the desire for happiness, but of a life project capable of blossom every human heart”.

Pope Francis encouraged young leaders “to rebel against the growing tendency to reduce love to something banal, without beauty or authentic sharing, lacking fidelity and responsibility.”

“Whenever we use others as objects for our own selfish ends, hearts end up being broken and leaving only sadness and emptiness in their wake,” the pope said.

Pointing to Mary, her openness to the will of God, Pope Francis reminded young leaders of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth.

“Mary did not stay home to think about the great privilege she had been given or the many problems it would cause,” he said. “Mary did not allow herself to be paralyzed by pride or fear. She wasn’t one of those people for whom all it takes to be comfortable and safe is a good couch: “couch potatoes.”

Pope Francis also urged young people to cherish the liturgical and spiritual traditions of their church and the prayers passed down from their grandparents.

“If you young people want to make your own life a song of praise, a gift for all humanity, it is essential to be anchored in the tradition and prayer of past generations,” the pope said.

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