On Thursday, August 3, the third day of World Youth Day 2023, Pope Francis gave the address at the Welcome Ceremony in Parque Eduardo VII. He said that "in the Church, there is room for everyone. Everyone. In the Church, no one is left out or left over."
Read the full text of his address below:
World Youth Day 2023: Welcome Ceremony
Address of His Holiness
Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon
Thursday, 3 August 2023
Dear young people, good evening!
Welcome and thank you for being here. I am pleased to see all of you, and also to hear the delightful noise you are making! This makes me share your infectious joy. It is good to be together in Lisbon. You were invited here by me, and by the Patriarch of Lisbon, whom I thank for his words of greeting. You were invited also by your Bishops, priests, catechists and youth leaders. Let us thank all of them for this and give them a fine round of applause! Yet, above all, it is Jesus who called you here: let us thank him!
Dear friends, you are not here by accident. The Lord has called you, not only in these days, but from the very beginning of your days. Indeed, he has called you by name. Called by name: try to imagine these three words written in large letters. Then consider that they were written within you, on your hearts, as if forming the headline of your lives, the meaning of who you are: you are called by name. Each of us is called by name. At the beginning of the story of our lives, before any talents we may have, before any shadows or wounds we might bear within us, we are called. Called because we are loved. In God’s eyes we are precious children, and he calls us each day in order to embrace and encourage us, to make of us a unique and original masterpiece whose beauty we can only begin to glimpse.
At this World Youth Day, let us help each other to recognize this fundamental reality: may these days be vibrant echoes of God’s call of love, for we are precious in his eyes, despite what our own eyes, clouded by negativity and dazzled by so many distractions, sometimes see. Let these be days when your name, spoken with friendship by brothers and sisters of many languages and nations, resonates as unique news in history, for God’s heart beats uniquely for you. Let these be days when we fully realize in our hearts that we are loved just as we are. While this is the starting point of World Youth Day, above all it is the starting point of our lives.
Called by name: this is not just a figure of speech; indeed, it is the word of God (cf. Isaiah 43:1, 2 Timothy 1:9). Dear friends, if God calls you by name, it means that for him you are not a number, but a face. I would like you to remember that many people know your name, yet they do not call you by name. Certainly your name is known, it appears on social networks and is processed by algorithms that associate it with likes and preferences, all of which is useful for market research, yet it does not begin to approach you in your uniqueness. How many wolves hide behind smiles of false goodness, saying that they know you, though they do not love you. They insist that they believe in you and promise that you will become someone, but then abandon you when you no longer matter. These are the illusions of the virtual world and we must be careful not to let ourselves be deceived, for many realities that attract us and promise happiness are later shown to be what they really are: vain, superfluous and surrogate things that leave us empty inside. But Jesus is not like that. He trusts you, for him you truly matter.
We, then, his Church, are the community of the called: not of the best – no, absolutely not – but of the summoned, of those who, together with others, welcome the gift of being called. We are the community of the brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of the same Father. In the letters you sent me – they are beautiful, thank you – you said: “It frightens me to know that there are people who do not accept me and do not think there is a place for me… I even wonder if there is a place for me.” And again: “I feel that in my parish there is no room for mistakes.”
Friends, I want to be clear with you, for you are allergic to falsity and empty words: in the Church, there is room for everyone. Everyone. In the Church, no one is left out or left over. There is room for everyone. Just the way we are. Everyone. Jesus says this clearly. When he sends the apostles to invite people to the banquet which a man had prepared, he tells them: “Go out and bring in everyone,” young and old, healthy and infirm, righteous and sinners. Everyone, everyone, everyone! In the Church there is room for everyone. “Father, but I am a wretch, is there room for me?" There is room for everyone! All together now, everyone, repeat with me in your own language: Everyone, everyone, everyone. I can’t hear you: again! Everyone. Everyone. Everyone. That is the Church, the Mother of all. There is room for everyone. The Lord does not point a finger, but opens his arms. It is odd: the Lord does not know how to do this (pointing), but that (opening wide). He embraces us all. He shows us Jesus on the cross, who opened his arms wide in order to be crucified and die for us.
Jesus never closes the door, never, but invites you to enter: come and see. Jesus receives, Jesus welcomes. In these days, each of us transmits the love of Jesus. God loves you. God calls you. How lovely this is! God loves me. God calls me. He wants me to be close to him.
You too, this evening, have asked me questions, a lot of questions. Don’t ever stop asking questions, because that is good; it is better, often, than giving answers, because asking questions is a sign of restlessless, and restlessness
is the best remedy for mere routine
, for sometimes routine can dull the soul. Each of us has his or her own questions. Let us bring those questions with us and let us share them in dialogue among ourselves. Let us bring them with us when we pray in God’s presence. As life goes on, those questions get answered; we just have to wait for them. Here is something interesting: God loves surprises. He is not a robot; his love is always surprising. He loves to surprise. He always keeps us alert and he keeps us surprised.
Dear young friends, I encourage you to reflect on the beautiful fact that God loves us. God loves us as we are, not how we want to be or how society wants us to be. As we are! He calls us with our faults and failings, our limitations and our hopes in life. That is how God calls us. Trust, because God is a Father and a Father who loves us. This is not very easy. And for this reason we need a great help, the Mother of the Lord. She is our Mother too. She is our Mother.
That is all I wanted to tell you. Don’t be afraid, take heart, move forward, knowing that all of us are “mortgaged” by the love God has for us. God loves us. Let us say it all together: God loves us. Louder, I can’t hear you. Thank you. Goodbye.
Text courtesy of the Holy See Press Office and the Libreria Editrice Vaticana