In celebration of the 2017 WYD and in preparation for the 2019 WYD in Panama, Pope Francis met with the youth at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
He also remembered his advice to the youth in Krakow and encouraged them to continue moving forward.
"I said two things, maybe someone remembers: it is sad to see a young person who retires at age 20, it is terrible. Also it is sad to see a young person living life on the couch. Isn't it true? No young person should be "retired" or living "from the couch." Young people who walk, youth on their way, youth that go forward, side by side, but looking at the future!”
He said his message, and the upcoming October 2018 Synod on "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” is for every young person, whether or not they believe in God.
"Young people are the protagonists. 'But also young people who are agnostics?' Yup! 'Also young people who have lukewarm faith?' Yup! 'Even young people who have fallen away from the Church?' Yup! Every young person has something to tell others, has something to say to adults, has something to say to the priests, nuns, bishops and the pope. We all need to listen to you!”
As such, there were two testimonies: one from a religious sister who fell away from the Church after the sacrament of confirmation and one from Pompeo, a 23-year-old young man who is paralyzed after a 2002 earthquake buried him alive.
"Then after the distress, I understood I had to react, and that I should consider myself lucky to be alive. I had to live for those who could no longer do so.”
Pope Francis took notes during their testimonies and despite all their difficulties in life, he wanted to encourage every young person in their mission.
"Dear young people, be brave! "But, Father, I have sinned, so many times I fall..". I am reminded of a mountain song, beautiful, that we sang in the mountains: 'In the art of climbing, the important thing is not to not fall, but do not remain down.' Keep going! You fall down? Get up and move on.”
This image of moving forward was seen as there was African dancing and music present in the Basilica, bringing flowers and incense toward an image of the Virgin Mary called Salus Populi Romani, Health of the Roman people.