POPE REMINDS YOUTH HOW MUCH CHURCH AND WORLD NEED
Pontiff Meets Participants of International Forum
CASTEL GANDOLFO, AUGUST 17 (ZENIT.org).- "Take the wealth of the human, spiritual, and
ecclesial experience of the Forum with you," the Holy Father said Thursday
morning to some 400 youth from 128 countries, who took part in the International Youth Forum that preceded World Youth Day.
The youth represented their Episcopal Conferences (each sending one young man and one young
woman) and ecclesial movements, communities, and organizations. This coming Saturday, during
World Youth Day's closing Vigil, they will read a statement prepared during the Forum in the presence
of the Holy Father.
Pope John Paul II celebrated a Mass for them at 8 a.m. today, in the patio of the apostolic residence
of Castel Gandolfo. U.S. Cardinal James Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the
Laity, attended the Mass, as did Polish Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, secretary of that Council.
During the homily, referring to the experience of the prophet Jeremiah, who was anxious when he
received the mission from God to speak in his name, the Pope encouraged the youth, saying: "Do not
be afraid to assume your responsibilities: the Church needs you, she needs your commitment and
generosity; the Pope needs you and, at the beginning of the millennium, he asks you to take the Gospel
on the roads of the world."
After recalling the question the risen Jesus asked Peter: "Do you love me?" the Holy Father said that
Jesus asks this same question today to youth: "He does not ask you to be able to speak to the masses,
or know how to lead an organization, or administrate goods. He asks you to want Him, to love Him.
All the rest will come later, as a consequence."
Pope John Paul II ended by recommending that youth not forget "that real love places no conditions,
does not calculate or recriminate, but simply loves."