“A radiation of joy in the world” – Joseph Ratzinger: New Springtime depends on youth

Praying with Pope Benedict at St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
This is the closest I’ve been to Pope Benedict XVI (Stations of the Cross, World Youth Day Sydney, 2011, St. Mary’s Cathedral).

The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) recently encored an interview with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the man who would soon afterwards become Pope Benedict XVI. It’s now available on YouTube.

The future Pope speaks about what the ‘New Springtime’ of the Church looks like — a period of renewal which he and John Paul II saw happening in their times. If there is renewal, where is it?

Today, it would be an error to think, ‘Now, within 10 years with the New Springtime, all people will be Catholic.’ This is not our future or our expectation. But we will have really, convinced communities… very convinced persons with the joy of the Faith. Smaller numbers, I think, but from the smaller numbers, we will have a radiation of joy in the world…

If we have young people really with joy of the Faith, and with radiation of this joy of the Faith, this will show to the world… even if I cannot convert it in this moment; here is the way to life for tomorrow.

As a member of the ‘John Paul II generation’ (persons born during, or shortly before, Blessed John Paul II’s pontificate), I wholeheartedly agree with the then-Cardinal Ratzinger. In fact, it was during my two weeks in Sydney, Australia that I realized the certainty of this New Springtime. I spent the first week with Pope Benedict XVI and 400,000+ young people from all around the world — first and third-world countries — who had traveled there to spend time in charitable service, fellowship, and prayer with each other and the Pope.

Riding on the metro train, walking down Sydney’s streets, we were all filled with an undeniable joy. We sang, we danced, we clapped, we smiled, we laughed, and we each had the chance to answer Sydneysiders who asked, “Why are you here?” with joy… to be with the Pope! To celebrate our Faith! To share the reason for our joy with the world!

That year’s theme: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8)

A ‘New Springtime’ is real and alive in the Catholic Church. It’s the fostering of truly convinced young people who will be joyful witnesses. We have a “future filled with hope” (cf. Jeremiah 29:11)!


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