Italians – especially millennials – are becoming more sceptical of the Pope

Pope Francis spent much of this past weekend entertaining young people from all over Italy – some 70,000 of them, to hear the Vatican tell it – who had come to Rome with the Italian bishops’ national service for youth ministry.

The bishops organised the week-long pilgrimage as part of their efforts to prepare for the general assembly of the synod of bishops, which is scheduled to convene later this year to explore “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment”.

On Saturday, at the Circus Maximus, Pope Francis fielded questions from four young people, regarding topics that ranged from the hopes and dreams of young people and their realisation, to peer pressure and risk aversion when it comes to matters of the heart, to the ways in which young Christians can most effectively bear witness to the Gospel in their lives.

The Pope told the young people: “Great dreams include [everyone], involve [others]: they are outward-looking.” He noted that the transformation of dreams into reality takes not only courage, but also hard work and discipline, for which wise and good teachers are an indispensable guide and support.

The Pope told his audience not to be afraid of commitment: “If love comes today, why wait three or four of five years to render it stable?” Then he told them that offering a living witness is the best and most effective sermon, more powerfully attractive than the most eloquent homily.

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