(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the young people of Paraguay on Sunday afternoon, in the final major public engagement of his week-long pilgrimage to Latin America. The gathering included a multimedia representation of the realities of young peoples’ lives in Paraguay, with choreography, music and a video montage, and the proclamation of a reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew: chapter 5, verses 1-12, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, in which the Lord teaches the Beatitudes.
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The encounter also included the testimony of two young people: a 25 year-old nurse named Liz Fretes, who has recently rediscovered her faith in the wake of personal and family struggle and is now active in youth ministry; and an 18 year-old campesino, Manuel de los Santos Aguiler, whose family was forced to abandon their rural life in order to search for a living in the capital – a choice that led to Manuel’s exploitation and experience of drug addiction and temptation to despair, before he too, through the ministry of other young people, discovered, “A God who can do all things,” and began to turn his life around with their help.
Putting aside his prepared text, Pope Francis responded directly to the witness of the two young people, focusing on three main points: the intimate connection between authentic liberty and responsibility and the necessity of a heart that is free in order truly to experience both; the nexus uniting hope and hard work; the spirit of gratitude that is the sign and seal of every life lived in and through the Gospel counsels of the Beatitudes.
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