Pope Francis with a group of young people 

By Edoardo Giribaldi

Jul 17 2023

In his address to a group of representatives of the Archdiocese of Córdoba, Argentina, Pope Francis stressed the importance of stepping out and meeting others, without rejecting anyone.

“Like Mary, you have risen, you have left behind what you know – your families, your comforts – and set out in haste to meet others.” With these words, Pope Francis greeted a group of young people from Córdoba, Argentina, headed to Portugal for the upcoming World Youth Day, which will take place in Lisbon from August 1 to August 6.

“We are all winners”

The Pope compared the event to a very special “World Cup,” a friendly match “where there are no winners or losers, but we all win.” He highlighted how “when we step out of ourselves and meet others,” giving what we have and being open to receive what others offer, “we are all winners and we can raise together the ‘cup of brotherhood.’”

Be a team

Pope Francis exhorted the young people to look at the footsteps of many Christians who followed Jesus to the end.

“This teaches us that with Christ’s team, the game is on until the last minute. We cannot get distracted. We must be alert and play as a team.”

We are one

The Pope encouraged the group to “intensively” live the World Youth Day: an occasion to be enriched through “a great diversity of faces, cultures, experiences, different expressions and manifestations of our faith.”

“Above all,” Pope Francis added, “you will be able to ultimately experience the yearning of Jesus: that we are ‘one’ so that the world may believe.” This, according to the Pope, will be essential to bear witness “the joy of the Gospel to so many other young people who do not find the meaning of life or have lost the way forward.”

World Youth Day and World Cup

Speaking with Vatican News, Martin Alonzo, one of the members of the Argentinian delegation, expressed his impressions about the meeting with Pope Francis.

“We were all very nervous, but he managed to make us feel as if we were at home,” Alonzo recounted. “He agreed to speak with each and every one of us, even if just for a minute.”

Coming from the same country as the Pope, Alonzo highlighted the comparison that Pope Francis made between the World Youth Day and the World Cup.

“As Argentinians,” whose national team won the last edition of the World Cup in Qatar last December, “we still have that feeling fresh in our minds. Football is more than a sport in Argentina, it is a feeling and there is a lot of passion. I really liked that, and I think it’s a fair comparison.”

“Faith is everywhere”

Alonzo concluded by underlining how even young people who will not attend the World Youth Day in Lisbon could still be a part of the event, as “there are many ways to live faith. It is everywhere,” and sometimes “expressed in the most random places.” – Vatican News