Pope Francis: Today’s World Needs Young ‘Transgressives’

Pope Francis greets faithful before departing aboard a helicopter to return to Vatican City on November 20, 2022 in Asti, Italy. The Pope took a two-day trip to his family’s Italian ancestral region of Piedmont in north-western Italy where, yesterday, he paid a private visit to his relatives in Portacomaro …
Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

ROME, Italy — Pope Francis called on young people to be “transgressive” Sunday instead of conforming to the expectations of the world around them.

Today, “we need young people who are truly ‘transgressives,’ non-conformists, who are not slaves to their mobile phones, but who change the world,” the pontiff told those gathered at the cathedral of Asti for his weekly Angelus message.

If they are transgressive, they will be “like Mary, bearing Jesus to others, taking care of others, building fraternal communities with others, making dreams of peace come true!” the pope added.

The Virgin Mary went “in haste” to visit her aged cousin Elizabeth when she learned she was with child, the pope reflected.

This is what today’s young need to do, he proposed, to “arise and go — not stay still thinking about ourselves, wasting our lives and chasing after comforts or the latest fads, but to aim for the heights, get on the move, leaving behind our own fears to reach out to those in need.”

Francis has often employed provocative expressions in his contact with the young, famously urging youth in Rio de Janeiro to “make a mess” in the Church and in society, a message he has repeated on a number of occasions.

“I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess,” he said in 2013.

“We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!” he said. “I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!”

The pope spent the weekend in the northern Italian city of Asti, ancestral home to his family, where he was awarded honorary citizenship by the local mayor.

There he utilized another peculiar turn of phrase, insisting that the world is experiencing “a famine of peace.”

“Let’s think of how many places in the world are scourged by war, in particular of war-torn Ukraine. Let’s roll up our sleeves and continue to pray for peace!” he said.

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