This article first appeared in the September issue of the Anglican Journal.
In summer 2002, I took a communications job at the north end of Toronto. Daily, I encountered scores of World Youth Day pilgrims and found myself regularly giving directions to Downsview Park, where the event was held. I can only imagine how that World Youth Day-like many of our own pilgrimages and missions trips-caused both disorientation and reorientation for those young Catholic pilgrims.
I can only imagine how such experiences will reverberate, following this July’s gathering of youth from across the globe in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Two days into the event, Pope Francis was overheard saying to a group of pilgrims: “What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses! 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.”
These words spread quickly around the world. The Pope was preaching the kind of trouble that comes when the whole people of God do what presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori suggested at Joint Assembly-we are called to get up, get out and get lost in God’s mission to the world.
We must do these things because this news is so good it cannot be confined to our half-empty churches or aging congregations. It must be taken to the streets, and lived recklessly-in our homes, our schools and our places of work.
I wondered, when I heard the Pope’s remarks, what the Archbishop of Canterbury might say. How might our leaders within the Anglican Church of Canada respond to such a bold statement?
I wondered, too, how our young people might respond. I hope they will take the Pope’s words to heart-that they will, in fact, stir up trouble in our dioceses; that they will challenge us through their actions to become disciples and evangelists to our own peers; that they will challenge us to authentically live our faith in daily life; that they will inspire our church to a renewed sense of God’s call, and a vision of what that might look like, today.
Above all, I hope and pray young people will show us that it is possible to be both passionate and Anglican.
Andrew Stephens-Rennie is a member of the national youth initiatives team of the Anglican Church of Canada.