Pope Francis, in an interview that aired on 22 March, said, when asked how he would reach out to people, “The last thing I would do is to tell them something ... what I have tried to do is to make them feel that I am close to them. Today the language of gestures is more important than words.”
During the meeting, challenging questions were asked about our accompaniment of and our closeness to the poor. For example, “Can our Province, Conference and the Society actually hear the call of the poor?” “What can be done about our privileges?” “Are we locked in the upper room in fear or are we staying inside because of prudence?” “What is going on in our hearts?” “Are we offering a message of hope?” “Do we really listen to the poor?”
In an interview with Austen Ivereigh, Pope Francis said, “The people of God need their pastors to be close to them, not to over-protect themselves. The people of God need their pastors to be self-sacrificing.” Another quote from the pope: “Father Arrupe used to say ‘Wherever there is pain, the Society is there’. Wherever there is suffering we are affected, because it is the Lord who is being crucified, the same Lord we pleaded to be placed with.”
How are young people struggling and how are we accompanying them? Many of them will have lost their jobs. They are particularly vulnerable because of their recent entry into the marketplace. But many also will be frustrated with the economic system; they know they want change. How can we accompany them to discern what to do about that change - not to just give vent to frustrated feelings but to really also act for change in a way that is effective and that bears fruit?