Delegates greet Pope Francis as he arrives at the Colina do Encontro or the Eduardo VII Park on Aug. 4 to attend the 38th World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. More than 1,500 Filipino delegates were sent this year, joining more than 350,000 attendees from different parts of the globe. (Photo grabbed from World Youth Day’s Facebook page)

THE 38TH World Youth Day has sent a message to the Church to connect with the youth amid rapid technological changes, a Thomasian bishop who was part of the Philippine delegation said.

“It is critical that the Church is able to connect with the young, and that the young also feel and experience being connected with the Church,” Daet, Camarines Norte Bishop Rex Andrew Alarcon told the Varsitarian

“What do you feel when you can’t connect through your gadget? When there is no internet signal? When suddenly the Wi-Fi signal is jammed? When you are not heard or understood? Do you not get irritated?”

Alarcon, chair of the Episcopal Commission on Youth of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, added that the Church must adapt to the language of the youth.

“While it is legitimate to express our own views, may we not forget that besides amplification of our own thoughts and preferences, may we also listen to others. The Church must continue to learn the language of the young,” the Daet prelate said. 

Alarcon said young people must learn to value genuine physical encounters to avoid succumbing to virtual reality.

“[There is the danger of overemphasizing the virtual rather than the real. This is to lose that attentiveness and care that is made possible by physical presence or better genuine presence,” he said.

Alarcon and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma led more than 1,500 Filipino delegates at this year’s World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, joining more than 350,000 attendees from different parts of the globe.

Alarcon, 53, earned his degree in theology at UST in 1996. 

The fourth bishop of Daet was a delegate at the 10th World Youth Day hosted by Manila in 1995.

Alarcon said this year’s World Youth Day festivities affirmed the youth’s fervor for promoting peace and friendship.

“The meeting of different viewpoints and cultures is an opportunity to cultivate a culture of encounter which promotes friendship and peace among different people,” he said. “It was wonderful to see the strength and energy of the youth, as well as their idealism, enthusiasm and zeal.”

At the Sending Mass presided by Pope Francis on Aug. 6, the Pontiff urged young people to keep persisting in their mission even when failures arise.

“As young people, you may be tempted at this time to lose heart, to think you fall short, or to disguise your pain with a smile. As young people, you want to change the world – and it is very good that you want to change the world – you want to work for justice and peace,” he said.

“You devote all your life’s energy and creativity to this, but it still seems insufficient. Yet, the Church and the world need you, the young, as much as the earth needs rain,” he added.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, for his part, said at the Filipino Mass on Aug. 4 that the occasion should be a sign that the youth could be a “seed of unity, communion, respect for human beings and respect for diversity” amid divisiveness.

The 2027 World Youth Day will take place in Seoul, South Korea. Sheila May S. Balagan and Justin Benedict T. Lim


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