By Dave Andrusko
As Pope Francis so often does, he mixed serious discussion about abortion and euthanasia with jokes about soccer at a lunch with World Youth Day pilgrims from different nations in Lisbon, Portugal.
“The meal with the pope and other church leaders took place during World Youth Day, an annual gathering that brings together hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from across the globe,” Micaiah Bilger reported. “Along with speaking to the crowd, Pope Francis also hosted a private meal for 10 young adults where they discussed topics ranging from faith and soccer to abortion and euthanasia.”
“I expected to be more nervous, but it was all very calm,” Joana Maria Fialho de Andrade, 24, told Catholic News Service after eating lunch with the pope at the Vatican nunciature in Lisbon Aug. 4. “We all felt at home, very welcome.”
According to Justin McLellan of Catholic News Service
Luis Cruz Duarte, 31, from Colombia said that the pope also encouraged them “not to leave grandparents on their own,” and, making a joke about soccer, compared life’s challenges to soccer balls shot toward a goal.
The pope told the young people to “be goalkeepers in life, and to prevent the bad things in life from scoring goals on you,” he said.
Clara Yacolca Farfan, 24 from Peru told CNS, “Some of us asked for advice on how young people today can face some issues that are difficult, that are very talked about — we talked about euthanasia, abortion.” In response, she said, the pope told them to “defend life.”
Pope Francis was joined last Thursday by Cardinal Manuel do Nascimento Clemente of Lisbon and Cardinal-designate Américo Aguiar, an auxiliary bishop of Lisbon and executive secretary of the local organizing committee for World Youth Day 2023.