Young people attend a rosary prayer at World Youth Day, presided by Pope Francis  (AFP or licensors)

By Joseph Tulloch

Oct 14 2023

In a message to high school students in Italy, Pope Francis encourages them to “discover the fascination of the person of Jesus”, who models leadership not “as a way of raising yourself above others, but as a way of lowering yourself to serve them.”

“It is important to have big dreams,” Pope Francis writes in a new letter to young leaders. “God has them too!”

The message, sent to participants in a leadership summit at San Carlo di Milano high school in Italy, was published on Friday, 13 October, the first day of the meeting.

“In this period,” the Holy Father writes, “you are asking yourselves how to contribute to changing the world. This is very positive.”

“It’s important,” he continues, “to meet adults who don’t crush dreams, but help you to interpret and realise them. Remember to always check your dreams against God’s!”

Jesus as catalyst for change

An important step toward becoming a change-maker, the Pope Francis says, is to “discover the inexhaustible fascination of the person of Jesus.”

“He,” Pope Francis writes, “makes all things new; He reveals an authority different from that exhibited by the powerful of yesterday and today. His is a way of transforming situations that does not overwhelm but uplift, does not constrain but liberates.”

The Pope encourages the young leaders to “follow [Jesus] with full confidence, thinking of your growth not as a way of raising yourself above others, but as a way of lowering yourself to serve them.”

The “spiritual senses”

Noting that a theme of the conference is leadership using all five senses, Pope Francis says that “this is wise, because reality is greater than ideas.”

Being in contact with reality, Pope Francis notes, “requires openness, attention, compassion, it requires a holistic sensitivity”; one, that is, which also includes the “spiritual senses”.

“I am telling you these things,” he stresses, “because yours is a Catholic institution, and ‘catholic’ means that it has an open and holistic vision of the human person, in all its dimensions.”


In the final section of his message, the Pope encourages the young leaders to “treasure these opportunities that school offers you”.

“They are not to be taken for granted,” he warns. “So many of your peers in the world, especially girls, do not even have the chance to study … Fight for their rights too.”

Pope Francis brings his letter to a close by thanking the young people for their commitment to a better world, offering them his blessing, and asking for their prayers. – Vatican News