Pope Francis urges young professionals to dream big, be creative

VATICAN CITY — Young people are meant to be “levers” that renew established systems, not “gears” to keep the old ways grinding, Pope Francis told a group of young professionals.

“We all need the creativity and impetus that only you young people can give us; creativity and impetus lie in your hands. Your thirst for truth, your cry for peace, your insight into the future, your hopeful smiles — we need these things!” he said.

Dream big, pursue a passion, be creative and get your hands dirty without fear, he told the group during an audience at the Vatican Jan. 12. The group included young people taking part in a meeting promoted by the Toniolo Young Professional Association.

The pope said he worries when he hears about young people “barricaded behind a screen, their eyes reflecting artificial light instead of letting their creativity shine.”

“Being young is not thinking about holding the world in your hands but getting your hands dirty for the world; it is having a life in front of you to spend, not to stow away or archive,” he said.

“It is sad to see young people being sluggish and anesthetized, lying on the couch instead of engaged in their schools and streets, bent over their screens instead of a book or a brother or sister in need.”

He said it’s also sad to see young people who “are professional on the outside and lifeless on the inside, who, ‘squeezed dry’ from their duties, take refuge in the pursuit of pleasure.”