Boston, Mass., Jul 25, 2023 / 12:30 pm (CNA).
Ahead of next week’s World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, Pope Francis responded to the prerecorded questions and struggles of young people in Vatican News’ newly produced podcast, dubbed the “Popecast.”
The podcast, which is produced in Italian, released its second episode Tuesday with the Holy Father. The first podcast was released in March on the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ papal election.
In the episode, Pope Francis responded to Giona’s account of a personal struggle with transgenderism.
“God loves us just as we are,” the Holy Father said, adding that “the Lord always accompanies us, always. Even if we are sinners, he draws near to help us,” Vatican News reported.
The pope said: “Do not give up, keep striving ahead.”
To a woman named Arianna who explained how she suffers from bipolar disorder, which has at times caused suicidal thoughts, but who feels “saved by God,” the pope encouraged her to listen to the guidance of health professionals. He added that everyone has wounds from different causes, which include sin. Our wounds require us to rely on God’s love and mercy, he said.
The Holy Father responded to Arianna’s recording reminding her to “always look ahead, not to lose sight of the horizon… and the horizon is God.”
A young man named Giuseppe shared his experience of leaving college, finding himself spending much of his time playing video games with others online, according to the outlet.
Living his life online can become “aseptic” and isolated, the Holy Father said, adding that human contact is important.
The Holy Father also heard the regrets of Edward and Valerij, who both came from difficult family situations, which led to a life of crime resulting in juvenile detention, the outlet reported.
Pope Francis encouraged them to not allow mistakes to impede their lives, adding that the “human story goes on with its successes and its failures.”
The Holy Father told them to remember that Jesus is always with them and ready “to take you by the hand, to help lift you up.”
It is our responsibility to acknowledge our mistakes so God can help us change our lives, he said.
Then a religion teacher, Valeria, said in her recorded message that her students voice their desire for a more transparent and youthful Church that is closer to the people, according to the outlet.
The pope noted that it’s important for the Church to walk together with the people. The Church can become too closed in on itself and risk division, he added. He said that what makes the Church great is its diversity and unity.
The Holy Father also made comments aimed at Argentinian youth, from his native country, and encouraged them to better their society by rising to the occasion, the outlet reported.
He concluded the “Popecast” by urging the young people in the recordings to take part in World Youth Day. He said that they would find it fulfilling, with its community, celebration, hope, and joy.
For more information and live coverage of World Youth Day events, visit EWTN World Youth Day Central.