The Holy Father met with the Plenary Assembly at the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The three day, which is being held from February 6-9, will focus on the theme: "Emerging Youth Cultures."
The Holy Father stated that the reality of youth today is very complex and that it can no longer be understood within a homogeneous cultural universe, but needs to be understood within a horizon that can be defined as a "multiverse", determined, that is, by a plurality of views, perspectives and strategies."
"It is appropriate to speak of "youth cultures", since the elements distinguishing and differentiating the cultural phenomena and areas outweigh those which, though present, are common to them," the Pope said.
"Several factors contribute to form a cultural landscape that is increasingly fragmented and in continuous, rapid evolution, to which the social media are certainly no strangers, these new communication tools that facilitate and sometimes themselves cause continuous and rapid changes in mentality, customs, and behavior."
The Holy Father also stressed that with the current difficulties in the political and economic spheres have effected youth in a psychological and relational level, often pushing them to the margins.
"The religious dimension, too," the Holy Father continued, "the experience of faith and one's belonging to the Church are often lived from a privatistic and emotive perspective."
Despite the challenges, Pope Benedict XVI stated that there is also very positive phenomenon, describing the "generous and courageous" youth volunteers who dedicate their lives to the needy as well as those who "joyfully bear witness to their belonging to the Church."
"We cannot, therefore, content ourselves with reading the cultural youth phenomena according to the established paradigms, which by now have become commonplaces, or analyze them with methods that are no longer useful, starting from outdated and inadequate cultural categories," the Holy Father said.
Renewed Faith in Today's Youth
While the problematic situations of the today's society can also affect one's faith and sense of belonging to the Church, Pope Benedict XVI renewed the Church's faith in young people.
Referring to the Second Vatican Council's address to young people, the Holy Father called on the youth to serve as grounds for reflection and inspiration for the new generation. The Pope renewed Paul VI's appeal to you the world's youth to "fight against all egoism. Refuse to give free course to the instincts of violence and hatred, which beget wars and all their sad train of miseries. Be generous, pure, respectful, sincere. And build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had!"
"I, too, wish to reaffirm this forcefully: the Church has confidence in young people, she hopes in them and in their energies, she needs them and their vitality, to continue to live with renewed enthusiasm the mission entrusted them by Christ," the Holy Father said.
"I very much hope, therefore, that the Year of Faith may be, also for the younger generation, a precious opportunity to rediscover and strengthen our friendship with Christ, from which to derive joy and enthusiasm to profoundly transform cultures and societies."
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On ZENIT's web page:
For the full text of the Holy Father's address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-the-plenary-assembly-of-the-pontifical-council-for-culture