The following editorial titled “Future of youth is ours, too” is from the July 25 issue of Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper.
On his way to lead up to 2 million enthusiastic young people from all around the globe at World Youth Day festivities in Rio de Janeiro July 23-28, Pope Francis sounded a somber note about their future — and everyone else’s too.
By using the economic hard times of recent years as an excuse not to hire young people, the pope said, the world risks tossing them aside and, in so doing, endangers its own future. “I think we run the risk of creating a generation that has never worked,” he said, speaking to journalists aboard the papal plane.
He said, “Young people at this moment are in crisis.”
What the world needs, the pope said, and what he hoped to demonstrate on his Brazil visit, is “a culture of inclusion and encounter” to make sure everyone’s place and potential contribution to society is welcomed — from the young people without jobs to the elderly who are pushed aside.
That’s a tall order, but we applaud the pope’s determination to shake things up.
With young people in particular, we’ve run across far too many talented individuals in recent years who have graduated from college and are either unemployed or underemployed, working at low-paying, part-time jobs or no-pay internships while they wait for the tide to turn in their favor.
Some of them go on to pursue graduate degrees, piling on more student loan debt in the hope that having an MBA or a Ph.D. will give them a leg up. Others take part-time jobs in fast-food restaurants or keep busy with occasional baby-sitting or pet-watching gigs, while spending off hours scouring the Internet want ads.
No matter which route they take, these young people are by and large postponing marriage, parenthood and even independent living outside their family home. Certainly, they’re not making the contribution they’d like to make to the local economy and to society at large.
The question, of course, is how does a society turn this around — and there are no easy answers.
By acknowledging the problem publicly and engaging the world’s young people in a weeklong encounter with the Catholic faith, Pope Francis emphasized their value to God and to the world — splendidly doing his part as a spiritual leader.
Now, it’s up to our elected and appointed officials and the business leaders of our communities to step up and play their roles building the bridges that take us from one natural stage of life to the next.
“A people has a future if it goes forward with bridges, with the young people having the strength to bring it forward,” the pope said, “and the elderly because they have the wisdom of life, the wisdom of history, the wisdom of a nation, the wisdom of a family.”
“We need this,” Pope Francis said. Indeed we do.
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