VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis began the synod on young people Oct. 3 with a homily calling for the Holy Spirit to renew hope and dynamism in the Church.
Hope can “broaden our horizons, expand our hearts and transform those frames of mind that today paralyze, separate and alienate us from young people,” said Pope Francis.
The Synod of Bishops commenced its 15th ordinary general session with Pope Francis asking to begin the assembly “anointed by hope.”
“Hope challenges us, moves us and shatters that conformism which says ‘it’s always been done like this,’” he continued.
In a historic first, two bishops from mainland China are participating in the Synod of Bishops due to the Holy See’s provisional agreement with China on the appointment of bishops in September.
One of the bishops at the synod, Bishop Giuseppe Guo Jincai of Chengde, was among the seven bishops recognized by the Vatican Sept. 22.
“The communion of the entire episcopate with the Successor of Peter is yet more visible thanks to their presence,” the Pope said as he welcomed the delegates from China.
The Synod of Bishops is taking place over three weeks, Oct. 3-28, and will focus on the themes of young people, the faith and vocational discernment.
“Hope asks us to get up and look directly into the eyes of young people and see their situations,” said Pope Francis. “This same hope asks us to make efforts to reverse situations of uncertainty, exclusion and violence to which our young people are exposed.”
More than 300 participants are gathered in Rome, including clerics and religious, as well as 49 auditors, among them 36 young people from five continents.
“May the Spirit give us the grace to be a memory that is diligent, living and effective, that does not allow itself from one generation to the next to be extinguished or crushed by the prophets of doom and misfortune, by our own shortcomings, mistakes and sins,” Pope Francis prayed.
“Rather, may it be a memory capable of enkindling our hearts and of discerning the ways of the Spirit,” he continued. “With this attitude of docile listening to the voice of the Spirit, we have gathered from all parts of the world.”
He said, “The Holy Spirit will be the first to preserve, to keep alive and relevant the memory of the Lord in the heart of his disciples. It is the Spirit who ensures that the richness and beauty of the Gospel will be a source of constant joy and freshness.”