JOHN PAUL II EXHORTS YOUTH TO BE CHASTE
Cites Centenary of St. Maria Goretti's Death
VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Weeks away from World Youth Day in Toronto, John
Paul II urged young people to "rediscover the value of chastity and to live interpersonal relations in
reciprocal respect and sincere love."
Addressing the faithful gathered Sunday in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled the example of St.
Maria Goretti (1890-1902), a girl who was murdered after rebuffing the sexual advances of a young
Alessandro Serenelli, a disturbed youth who on several occasions tried to seduce Maria
Goretti, stabbed her repeatedly with a knife when she refused his advances. Repentant, and after leading an
exemplary life, Serenelli was present at her canonization on June 24, 1950.
"St. Maria Goretti is an example for the new generations, threatened by a mentality of lack of
commitment, which finds it hard to understand the importance of values on which it is never licit to
descend to compromises," John Paul II explained. "Although she was poor and lacking in school education, Maria, who was not yet 12 years old, had a
strong and mature personality, formed by the religious education she received in the family," the Pope
added. "This enabled her not only to defend her own person with heroic chastity, but even to forgive
"Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following pleasurable impulses, but
by living his life in love and responsibility," the Holy Father emphasized in his address before the
"I know well how much you, dear young people, are sensitive to these ideals," John Paul II said to
those congregated in St. Peter's Square.
"In the hope of meeting you in two weeks in Toronto, today I wish to repeat to you: Do not let the
culture of possessions and pleasure lull your consciences!" he concluded. "Be vigilant and alert
sentinels, in order to be genuine protagonists of a new humanity."