By JANE CHAMBERS, Catholic News Service | Published January 25, 2018
SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS)—Pope Francis challenged young Chileans, telling them to always ask themselves, “What would Christ do in my place?”
“At school, at university, when outdoors, when at home, among friends, at work, when taunted: ‘What would Christ do in my place?’” he told thousands of young people who came from all over Latin America and Chile to a youth rally at Santiago’s Maipu shrine.
“When you go dancing, when you are playing or watching sports: ‘What would Christ do in my place?’ He is the password, the power source that charges our hearts, ignites our faith and makes our eyes sparkle.”
Pope Francis told young people they are protagonists who will change the church, and the young people responded. Throughout the service they frequently shouted, “This is the pope’s young people.”
He spoke of the inspiration of St. Alberto Hurtado, founder of the Hogar de Cristo movement, which provides vocational training and other services for young people. The saint “had a golden rule, a rule for setting his heart ablaze with the fire that keeps joy alive. For Jesus is that fire; everyone who draws near to it is set ablaze. Hurtado’s password was quite simple—if your phones are turned on, I would like you to key this in. He asks: ‘What would Christ do in my place?’”
Several young people were chosen to tell Pope Francis about their dreams and hopes. Ariel Rojas told him, “We recognize in you a way of being, a way of love.”
Rojas got a loud cheer when he told Pope Francis, “We want to help you and support you with your faith, and we want you to know that we will help you when you are tired, because of all the many things you have to do.”
Many of the pilgrims were wearing purple T-shirts that showed they were affiliated with the Jesuits. One of them, Natalia Tomas, had traveled more than 500 miles from Puerto Montt. She told Catholic News Service she is following Pope Francis’ advice to “stir things up and get out and help people.”
Many of the young people signed up to be volunteers, like Rodrigo Opazo, 16, from Colina. He told CNS: “I want to help the pope; it makes me happy. And when I am older I can tell my family I helped the pope.”
The meeting was filled with symbolism because Maipu shrine, formerly the Basilica of Our Lady of Carmel, honors Chile’s patron saint. There was a statue of her on the stage, which the pope blessed.
Pope Francis told the crowd, “If you don’t love your country, you don’t love God.”
Participants responded by shouting “chi chi chi che che che viva Chile,” a popular chant often used at soccer matches showing a love for Chile.
The young people presented Pope Francis with a miniature Chilean-blue cross with a red ribbon to symbolize the blood of Christ and an alliance that all of Chile is together.
Later, the pope met with professors, staff and students at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He told them they can contribute to fostering peaceful coexistence in the country through education.
Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho Esteves.