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Christians must “carry the Church forward” during times of crisis, says Pope Francis to French youth

Tiziani Fabi | AFP
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It's not great organizations that bring the Bride of Christ through history, but saints!

In times of crisis, Christians must “carry the Church forward,” explained Pope Francis to Catholic young people he received in an audience at the Vatican on September 17, 2018, reported the Holy See on September 18.

The group from Isère (southeastern France) consisted of six high school students, a university student, and members of the diocese’s youth ministry. The delegation was led by Bishop Guy de Kerimel, of Grenoble-Vienna.

The young people made a presentation to the Sovereign Pontiff of the progress of their local pastoral group. In a free and spontaneous exchange, they questioned him on different themes, including sexuality, commitment, proclamation of the Gospel, etc.

Christians must not only follow Christ in the Church when it is “flourishing” and in its “peaceful moments,” the Bishop of Rome said, but also when it is “in crisis.” The Church has not been carried forward by “great organizations” or “political parties,” he argued, but by the saints, who “forge the way ahead of us.” We too must “carry the Church forward,” following their example. “Faith is not an idea: it is an encounter with Jesus,” he said.

Christians “do not live isolated” from society, but are part of a body, the pope also said. “One can not be a Christian without engaging in society.”

We must therefore become involved, and not only in politics or in the field of ideas, he insisted. Everyone — wherever they are — must “get their hands dirty in the process of helping others.” In this effort, he said, there are two enemies to our Christian commitment which we must avoid: egoism and corruption. “Corruption,” the pope explained, “consists in living for yourself. (…) Corruption cuts short every ideal.”

Speaking on a different topic, the pope underscored that “sexuality is a gift from God.” This gift has two goals, according to the pope: to love and to give life. That is why we must speak of “true sexuality,” recommended the Roman Pontiff, especially in the face of the “pornography industry” which degrades love from the level where God wants it to be. It is a “very beautiful path of love between a man and a woman” which one must know how to protect, he said.

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