Pope Reflects on World Youth Day in Portugal: An Encounter with Christ and God’s Love

Pope Francis praises the recently-concluded Apostolic Journey to Lisbon for World Youth Day, highlighting its significance in meeting Christ, discovering faith, and experiencing divine love

Following his traditional July break, Pope Francis resumed his weekly General Audiences and shared reflections on his recent Apostolic Journey to Portugal for the 37th World Youth Day in Lisbon. The Pope celebrated the event as a unique opportunity for young people to encounter Christ, deepen their faith, and connect with God’s boundless love.

The Holy Father’s remarks were delivered during the first General Audience since his customary July hiatus, which provided respite from the scorching Roman summer. At this gathering, Pope Francis discussed his visit to Portugal and its profound impact.

“World Youth Day in Lisbon, after the pandemic, was felt by all to be a gift of God,” he affirmed.

Recalling the vigor and devotion of the young attendees, Pope Francis highlighted the profound journey of faith many embarked upon. He noted that the event was a channel through which God beckoned young hearts to seek out Jesus.

Pope Francis emphasized that World Youth Day serves as a dynamic encounter with the living Christ, facilitated by the Church. This encounter fosters spiritual growth and often leads young individuals to discern their vocations, whether to marriage, consecrated life, or priesthood. He emphasized that this experience is a source of joy, as it unveils the divine call to be part of God’s people and to share the joyful message of Christ’s Gospel—a message that proclaims God’s role as a loving Father to all His children.

During the event, Pope Francis also acknowledged the special presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He recalled his time praying to her in Fatima and underscored her responsiveness whenever believers seek her intercession. “Mary is everyone’s mother; she never makes us wait,” he affirmed.

The Pope revealed that he prayed at the site of the Apparition, alongside a group of young people who were unwell, asking God to heal the world from spiritual afflictions such as pride, falsehoods, enmity, and violence. He also shared his prayer for peace, as numerous conflicts persist around the world.

Pope Francis commended the immense faith and enthusiasm displayed by the young attendees, particularly noting the presence of Ukrainian youth, who brought with them the weight of their nation’s struggles. He observed that many young people, like those from Ukraine, attended World Youth Day with the intention of encountering Christ.

The Pope’s concluding remarks included a prayer for the blessings of the Blessed Virgin Mary upon young individuals worldwide and the Portuguese population. He expressed gratitude to all involved in organizing the event and acknowledged the presence of young people who had traveled to Rome to attend the General Audience.

Pope Francis’s journey to Portugal marked the first of three planned Apostolic Journeys between August and September. The Pontiff will become the first Pope to visit Mongolia from August 31 to September 4. Later in the month, he will spend two days in Marseille, France, to address matters concerning migration in the Mediterranean region.