Pope Francis’ Youth Document


Pope Francis marked the feast of the Annunciation in 2019 by releasing his apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit (Christ Lives). It is the fruit of listening and discerning during the October 2018 Synod of Bishops, focused on the theme: “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”




The inviting document is presented in nine chapters, roughly corresponding to the pastoral method of “see, judge, act” or, in the framework of the Asian bishops, “dialogue, discernment, deeds.” Succinctly presented, the first three chapters present “observations” (scriptural, theological, sociological); the middle three chapters offer an “assessment” (spiritual, developmental, generational); and the final three chapters focus on “action” (pastoral, missionary, synodal). Taken together, Christus Vivit constitutes a magna carta for youth and pastoral ministry.

Christological Emphases. Several rich themes emerge from a comprehensive review of this lengthy document (100+ pages). There is a clear emphasis on Christ. Francis asserts: “Christ is alive!  He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world.  The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive” (1).

“He is in you; he is with you and he never abandons you.  However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope” (2). The Church should not be “excessively caught up in herself, but instead, and above all, reflect Jesus Christ” (39).  “In Jesus, all the young [indeed everyone] can see themselves” (31).

Church: An Open Community. What vision of the Church emerges in Christus Vivit? Pope Francis explores the relationship between the young and the entire People of God, both pastors and faithful. There is not a separate “Church of the young” or a “Church with the young and for the young.” There exists a single community, the Church—and the young are living and creative members of this one body.

Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of synodality (walking together) in the Church. All segments of the Church (young, old, lay, ordained, religious, married, etc.) are to collaborate in building a better future—both in the Church and in society at large.

Francis also speaks on specific issues. For example, he invites the entire Church to reach out to migrants, following a balanced approach to this often-divisive issue. He also encourages young people through media to share the beauty of their own personal experience of encounter with Christ, an important avenue to build up Christ’s Church.

Gospel Insights. Francis explores Scripture in this pastoral letter, written “with great affection” (3). He writes: “In the Gospel of Mathew, we find a young man (Mt 19:20-22) who approaches Jesus and asks if there is more that he can do; in this, he demonstrates that youthful openness of spirit which seeks new horizons and great challenges. Yet, his spirit was really not that young, for he had already become attached to riches and comforts. He said he wanted something more, but when Jesus asked him to be generous and distribute his goods, he realized that he could not let go of everything he had….  He had given up his youth” (18).

Also, in Matthew (25:1-13), the Gospel “speaks about a group of wise young women, who were ready and waiting, while others were distracted and slumbering.”  The Pope notes: “We can, in fact, spend our youth being distracted, skimming the surface of life, half-asleep, incapable of cultivating meaningful relationships or experiencing the deeper things in life.  In this way, we can store up a paltry and unsubstantial future.  Or we can spend our youth aspiring to beautiful and great things, and thus store up a future full of life and interior richness” (19).

Concluding Reflections.  Presented in a unique style expressive of closeness, frankness, simplicity, tenderness, and warmth, Pope Francis in Christus Vivit is eliciting our personal response.  With pastoral boldness, Francis is inviting all in the Church to become a serving Church, one that is not silent or afraid to speak to pivotal issues facing the world today. This means fostering a humble community that listens, particularly to the insights of the youth.

Francis asks all to turn to Mary as “the supreme model for a youthful Church that seeks to follow Christ with enthusiasm and docility” (43). We can only meet these many challenges, if we personally “encounter each day your best friend, the friend who is Jesus” (151).  Obviously, Pope Francis is speaking from his heart to our hearts, inviting us to strive to be “open-hearted” missionary-disciples!


James H. Kroeger, MM, has served mission in Asia (Philippines and Bangladesh) for over five decades.  He recently completed a new book, Walking with Pope Francis: The Official Documents in Everyday Language, a synthesis-popularization of ten of Pope Francis’ pivotal documents from 2013-2022. It is available from the Paulines publisher in the Philippines.

Share Your Thoughts

All comments are moderated

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage


Presents, discusses and draws readers to reflect on issues of outmost relevance to the world today.


Very often, mission is carried out in frontier situations around the world. Those who embrace these situations have much to share.


Writer Ilsa Reyes will be exploring the richness of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti with a view of helping our readers to get a grasp of the this beautiful papal document.


Puts to the front committed and inspiring people around the world who embrace humanitarian and religious causes with altruism and passion.


Focus on a given theme of interest touching upon social, economic and religious issues.


As the Philippines prepares to celebrate 500 years of the arrival of Christianity. Fr. James Kroeger leads us in this series into a discovery journey of the landmark events in the history of faith in the Philippine archipelago.


Aims to nurture and inspire our hearts and minds while pondering upon timely themes.


The large archipelago of the Philippines, in its richness of peoples and cultures, offers varied and challenging situations for mission.


Reflections and vocation stories that shape up the lives of young people.


As humor and goodness of heart are qualities of Christian and missionary life, the new column “Mission is fun” will be publishing some anecdotes and stories that have happened in a missionary context to lighten up the spirits and trigger a smile in our faces.


To help readers of World Mission live this year dedicated to Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, Tita Puangco, writer and lecturer, shares in this section insights on the spirituality of communion.


A historic view of the Catholic movements that emerged from the grassroots as an inspiration by the Holy Spirit.


On the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, radio host and communicator Ilsa Reyes, in her monthly column, encourages Christians and people of good will to be one with their fellow people of other sects, religions and tribes.


Questions to a personality of the Church or secular world on matters of interest that touch upon the lives of people.


News from the Church, the missionary world and environment that inform and form the consciences.


A feature on environmental issues that are affecting the whole world with the view of raising awareness and prompting action.


The editor gives his personal take on a given topic related to the life of the Church, the society or the world.


A monthly column on themes touching the lives of young people in the Year of the Youth in the Philippines by radio host and communicator I lsa Reyes.


A missionary living in the Chinese world shares his life-experiences made up of challenges and joyous encounters with common people.


Life stories of people who deserve to be known for who they were, what they did and what they stood for in their journey on earth.


Stories of people whom a missionary met in his life and who were touched by Jesus in mysterious ways.


Critical reflection from a Christian perspective on current issues.


Comboni missionary Fr. Lorenzo Carraro makes a journey through history pinpointing landmark events that changed the course of humanity.


A biographical sketch of a public person, known for his/her influence in the society and in the Church, showing an exemplary commitment to the service of others.


Gives fresh, truthful, and comprehensive information on issues that are of concern to all.


A column aimed at helping the readers live their Christian mission by focusing on what is essential in life and what it entails.


Peoples, events, religion, culture and the society of Asia in focus.


The human heart always searches for greatness in God’s eyes, treading the path to the fullness of life - no matter what it takes.


The subcontinent of India with its richness and variety of cultures and religions is given center stage.


The African continent in focus where Christianity is growing the fastest in the world.


Well-known writer and public speaker, Fr. Jerry Orbos, accompanies our journey of life and faith with moments of wit and inspiration based on the biblical and human wisdom.


On the year dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyala, Fr. Lorenzo Carraro walks us through the main themes of the Ignatian spirituality.


Fr. John Taneburgo helps us to meditate every month on each of the Seven Last Words that Jesus uttered from the cross.


In this section, Fr. Lorenzo delves into the secrets and depths of the Sacred Scriptures opening for us the treasures of the Sacred Book so that the reader may delight in the knowledge of the Word of God.


Reflections about the synodal journey on a conversational and informal style to trigger reflection and sharing about the synodal path the Church has embarked upon.

Shopping Cart