Vatican Dicastery sets up International Youth Advisory Body
Youth Advisory Body delegate: “Young people have a place to share their experiences” Surprised and honoured by the nomination to the Youth Advisory Body set up by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Carina Baumgartner says “young people must first of all get engaged in their local church” and that the Church must reach out to those who do not feel at home there.
28 year old Carina Baumgartner from Austria received the news that she had been nominated to the newly established International Youth Advisory Body. Made up of 20 young people from five continents, the group will be tasked with advising the Pope on matters surrounding youth ministry and other topics related to young people.
“With this Youth Body, they now have a place to share their experiences, as well as their thoughts on various topics” Baumgartner said, adding that “it will be important to reach out to those who are still far from the Church and who have not experienced it as a place where they can feel at home”.
Despite the common impression that the faith is not easily communicated to the new generation, Baumgartner said that “Through my work, I see so many young people who are engaged, and they show others that the Church is young and that it is a place they can call home”.
As a young, engaged woman herself of a largely secularised generation, she said: “My faith and the Catholic Church are both very important to me. The Church is a community for those who wish to deepen their faith, and I see this every day. This is what I want to share with others, to invite others into this community, and to share with them the Good News”.
Pope Francis recalls his visit to Thailand and Japan
Pope Francis’ catechesis during Wednesday’s General Audience is devoted to his Apostolic Journey to Thailand and Japan. The Pope told pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square that this visit had increased his closeness and affection for the peoples of both Thailand and Japan.
Beginning with his journey to Thailand, the Pontiff paid tribute to the rich spiritual and cultural tradition of the Thai people, calling them the people with the “beautiful smile”. Pope Francis recalled the many strands to this visit, including his meeting with civil authorities, brother bishops, the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch and the Thai King.
He also said, he “encouraged a commitment to harmony between the different elements of the nation, as well as towards an economic development that benefits all and to healing the scourges of exploitation, especially of women and children.”
Turning to the second leg of his Apostolic Journey, which was Japan, Pope Francis highlighted the motto for the visit, which was “Protect All Life”. He called it “a vital theme for a county that experienced the devastation of the atomic bomb and more recent disasters.”
“To protect life one must love it”, he said, “and today the serious threat, in more developed countries, is the loss of a sense of living”. The Pope went on to say, that the first victims of this are young people, that is why, he said, he encouraged them to face the future without fear by opening their hearts to God’s love in prayer and in service of others.
Pope sends aid to Albania earthquake victims
The northern coast of Albania was struck by a deadly 6.4 magnitude earthquake on the night of 25 November. Most of the death and destruction occurred in the port city of Durres and in Thumane, close to the epicentre.
Pope Francis’s 100,000 euro donation, made through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will be used for a first-phase emergency response. It has been distributed to dioceses affected by the quake for immediate relief and assistance.
On Wednesday the Pope prayed for the earthquake victims during his General Audience in St Peter’s Square: “I would like to send a greeting and my closeness to the dear Albanian people, who have suffered so much in these days,” he said, recalling that Albania was the first country in Europe that he chose to visit. “I am close to the victims, I pray for the dead, for the wounded, for the families. May the Lord bless this people whom I love so much," he said.
The contribution of the Dicastery, which accompanies the Pope's prayer for the people of Albania, is part of a wider effort on the part of the Catholic Church engaging various Bishops’ Conferences and numerous charities.