6.3. The youth
The “Youth” Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity was set up by John Paul II in 1986. It is meant to be a visible expression of the importance attributed to the world of youth by the Pope and the whole Church, for the present and for the future; to be also a sign of pastoral care and of confidence in their regard. The Holy Father made this very clear in an address to the Roman Curia on 20 December 1985: “All young people must feel that the Church is paying attention to them. So the whole Church, in union with the Successor of Peter, must feel more and more committed, at world level, in favour of the youth, sharing their cares and anxieties, their aspirations and hopes, in order to match their expectations by communicating the certainty that is Christ, the Truth that is Christ, the love that is Christ”.(29)
The essential reference for the activity of the Section is the Apostolic Letter to the Youth of the World written by the Holy Father in 1985 on the occasion of the International Youth Year.
Within the Holy See, the Section is the voice of youth, an instrument for making the other dicasteries aware of the problems of youth ministry, a centre for information on the reality, worldwide, of pastoral care for youth and of their apostolate.
For the universal Church, the Section makes known the Holy Father's initiatives; offers its services to Bishops' Conferences in the field of youth ministry; keeps contact with international movements and associations for youth, promoting cooperation between the various communities; organizes meetings on youth ministry at international and continental level.
In relation to the international organizations concerned with young people (e.g. the commissions of Unesco and the Council of Europe), the “Youth” Section is generally called to represent the Holy See.
Highlights of the Section's activity are preparation for celebrating the World Youth Day, instituted by John Paul II in 1985 (held annually in the local Churches) and organization of the World Meetings of the young people with the Pope (which take place every two years, each time in a different country), including especially the International Youth Forum.
The Section publishes the Pope's official teachings for youth in a volume, “The Pope Speaks to Youth”. It gathers documentation on pastoral care: on associations and movements for youth; on the activity of the more important international organizations that work with young people; on the more significant publications dealing with relevant matters in the fields of pastoral action, education, sociology and psychology.
On behalf of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Section promotes and coordinates the activities of the “San Lorenzo” International Youth Centre that, by the wish of John Paul II, was set up in Rome to welcome young pilgrims and share with them the Message of the Gospel.
The activities of the “Youth” Section are financed by the “Youth Church Hope” Foundation, which was erected with public juridical personality on 29 June 1991 by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Its purpose is “to contribute to the implementation of the teaching of the magisterium of the Catholic Church regarding the priority of youth ministry, as particularly expressed in the World Youth Days”; and “to promote the evangelization of young people and support youth ministry throughout the world” (Statutes, art. 1, 2.1).