VATICAN CITY, AUG 15, 2000 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. John Paul II, having travelled from
Castelgandolfo, arrived in the square of St. John Lateran. He welcomed the young Italians gathered to
meet him and thus opened the 15th World Youth Day which will continue until August 20.
As the popemobile moved through the packed square, it was preceded by a group of representatives
from the 226 dioceses of Italy, each bearing a standard with their patron saint.
Prior to the Holy Father's greetings, Cardinal
Camillo Ruini, Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome, recalled
"that evening of March 30, 1985 'International Year of Youth,'
during which, in this same
square of St. John Lateran, Your Holiness met for the first time with young people from all over the
world and thus initiated that extraordinary path of faith, of friendship, of fraternity, of shared happiness
and of shared commitment, that later developed into the World Youth Days."
In his greetings to young Italians, the Holy Father said: "Over the coming days, in this city which
houses the tombs and the memories of those who bore witness to the Savior of the world, may each
young person encounter Jesus, He who knows the secret of true happiness and has promised it to His
"Dear young pilgrims of the third millennium, live this World Youth Day with intensity. Through
contact with so many of your peers who, like you, want to follow Christ, treasure the words you will
hear from the bishops, accepting the voice of the Lord in order to strengthen your faith and bear
witness to it without fear, in the knowledge that you are the heirs of a great past.
"In inaugurating your Jubilee, dear young men and women, I want to repeat the words with which I
started my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the Universal Church, I would like these words
to guide you in your days in Rome: 'Do not be afraid! Open the doors, open wide the doors to Christ!'
... Let Christ reign in your young lives, serve Him with love. To serve Christ is to be free!"
Before closing his address the Pope, who was interrupted on various occasions by cheers and
applause, joked about his age; to the young people's cries of "long live the Pope!" he responded: "He
has been living for 80 years and the young people want him ever youthful."
Having concluded his speech, John Paul II traveled by popemobile to St. Peter's Square.