Exhibition Place, near Lake Ontario, 25 July 2002
Holy Father's Opening Greeting
Dear Young Friends!
1. You have come to Toronto from every continent to celebrate World Youth Day. My joyful and
heartfelt greetings go to you! I have been eagerly looking forward to this meeting, especially when day
after day from all parts of the world I received in the Vatican good news about all the initiatives that
have marked your journey here. And often, even without having met you, I commended you one by
one in my prayers to the Lord. He has always known you, and he loves each one of you personally.
With fraternal affection I greet the Cardinals and Bishops who are here with you; in particular Bishop
Jacques Berthelet, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada, Cardinal Aloysius
Ambrozic, Archbishop of this city, and Cardinal James Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical
Council for the Laity. To all of you I say: may your contacts with your Pastors help you to discover
and appreciate more and more the beauty of the Church, experienced as missionary communion.
2. Listening to the long list of countries from which you come, we have practically made a trip round
the world. Behind each of you I have glimpsed the faces of all your fellow young people whom I have
met in the course of my apostolic travels, and whom in a way you represent here. I have imagined you
on a journey, walking in the shadow of the Jubilee Cross, on this great youth pilgrimage which,
moving from continent to continent, is eager to hold the whole world in a close embrace of faith and
Today this pilgrimage makes a stop here, on the shores of Lake Ontario. We are reminded of another
lake, the Lake of Tiberias, on the shores of which the Lord Jesus made a fascinating proposal to the
first disciples, some of whom were probably young like you (cf. Jn 1:35-42).
The Pope, who loves you dearly, has come from afar to listen again with you to Jesus’ words. As was
the case for the disciples on that day long ago, these words can set the hearts of young people aflame
and motivate their whole lives. I invite you then to make the various activities of this World Youth Day
which is just beginning a special time when each of you listens attentively to the Lord, with a willing
and generous heart, in order to become the “salt of the earth and light of the world” (cf. Mt 5:13-16).
Address of the Holy Father
Dear Young People!
1. What we have just heard is the Magna Carta of Christianity: the Beatitudes. We have seen once
more, with the eyes of our heart, what happened at that time. A crowd of people is
Jesus on the mountain: men and women, young people and elderly folk, the healthy and the infirm,
who have come from Galilee, but also from Jerusalem, from Judea, from the cities of the
Decapolis, from Tyre and Sidon. All of them anxiously awaiting a word, a gesture that will give them comfort
We too are gathered here, this evening, to listen attentively to the Lord. He looks at you with affection:
you come from the different regions of Canada, of the United States, of Central and South America,
of Europe, of Africa, of Asia, of Oceania. I have heard your festive voices, your cries, your songs, and
I have felt the deep longing that beats within your hearts: you want to be happy!
Dear young people, many and enticing are the voices that call out to you from all sides: many of these
voices speak to you of a joy that can be had with money, with success, with power. Mostly they
propose a joy that comes with the superficial and fleeting pleasure of the senses.
2. Dear friends, the aged Pope, full of years but still young at heart, answers your youthful desire for
happiness with words that are not his own. They are words that rang out two thousand years ago.
Words that we have heard again tonight: “Blessed are they . . .” The key word in Jesus’ teaching is a
proclamation of joy: “Blessed are they . . .”
People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this
desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him. True joy is a victory, something which cannot be
obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory. You know what came before. It is told in the Book of Genesis: God created man and woman in a
paradise, Eden, because he wanted them to be happy. Unfortunately, sin spoiled his initial plans. But
God did not resign himself to this defeat. He sent his Son into the world in order to give back to us an
even more beautiful idea of heaven. God became man — the Fathers of the Church tell us — so that
men and women could become God. This is the decisive turning-point, brought about in human history
by the Incarnation.
3. What struggle are we talking about? Christ himself gives us the answer. “Though he was in the
form of God,” Saint Paul has written, he “did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but
emptied himself, taking the form of a servant . . . he humbled himself and became obedient unto
death” (Phil 2:6-8). It was a struggle unto death. Christ fought this battle not for himself but for us.
From his death, life has sprung forth. The tomb at Calvary has become the cradle of the new humanity
on its journey to true happiness.
The “Sermon on the Mount” marks out the map of this journey. The eight Beatitudes are the road
signs that show the way. It is an uphill path, but he has walked it before us. He said one day: “He who
follows me will not walk in darkness” (Jn 8:12). And at another time he added: “These things I have
spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn 15:11).
It is by walking with Christ that we can achieve joy, true joy! Precisely for this reason he again
repeats the proclamation of joy to you today: “Blessed are they . . .”
Now that we are about to welcome his glorious Cross, the Cross that has accompanied young people
on the roadways of the world, let this consoling and demanding word echo in the silence of your
hearts: “Blessed are they. . .”
4. Gathered around the Lord’s Cross, we look to him: Jesus did not limit himself to proclaiming the
Beatitudes, he lived them! Looking at his life anew, re-reading the Gospel, we marvel: the poorest of
the poor, the most gentle among the meek, the person with the purest and most merciful heart is none
other than Jesus. The Beatitudes are nothing more than the description of a face, his face!
At the same time, the Beatitudes describe what a Christian should be: they are the portrait of Jesus’
disciple, the picture of those who have accepted the Kingdom of God and want their life to be in tune
with the demands of the Gospel. To these Jesus speaks, calling them “blessed”.
The joy promised by the Beatitudes is the very joy of Jesus himself: a joy sought and found in
obedience to the Father and in the gift of self to others.
5. Young people of Canada, of America and of every part of the world! By looking at Jesus you will
learn what it means to be poor in spirit, meek and merciful; what it means to seek justice, to be pure in
heart, to be peacemakers.
With your gaze set firmly on him, you will discover the path of forgiveness and reconciliation in a
world often laid waste by violence and terror. Last year we saw with dramatic clarity the tragic face
of human malice. We saw what happens when hatred, sin and death take command. But today Jesus’ voice resounds in the midst of our gathering. His is a voice of life, of hope, of
forgiveness; a voice of justice and of peace. Let us listen to this voice!
6. Dear friends, the Church today looks to you with confidence and expects you to be the people of
Blessed are you if, like Jesus, you are poor in spirit, good and merciful; if you really seek what it just
and right; if you are pure of heart, peacemakers, lovers of the poor and their servants. Blessed are
Only Jesus is the true Master, only Jesus speaks the
unchanging message that responds to the deepest longings of the human heart, because he alone knows “what is in each person” (cf. Jn 2:25). Today
he calls you to be the salt and light of the world, to choose goodness, to live in justice, to become
instruments of love and peace. His call has always demanded a choice between good and evil,
between light and darkness, between life and death. He makes the same invitation today to you who
are gathered here on the shores of Lake Ontario.
7. What call will those on early morning watch choose to follow? To believe in Jesus is to accept what
he says, even when it runs contrary to what others are saying. It means rejecting the lure of sin,
however attractive it may be, in order to set out on the difficult path of the Gospel virtues.
Young people listening to me, answer the Lord with strong and generous hearts! He is counting on
you. Never forget: Christ needs you to carry out his plan of salvation! Christ needs your youth and
your generous enthusiasm to make his proclamation of joy resound in the new millennium. Answer his
call by placing your lives at his service in your brothers and sisters! Trust Christ, because he trusts
8. Lord Jesus Christ, proclaim once more
your Beatitudes in the presence of these young people,
gathered in Toronto for the World Youth Day.
Look upon them with love and listen to their young hearts,
ready to put their future on the line for you.
You have called them to be
the “salt of the earth and light of the world”.
Continue to teach them the truth and beauty
of the vision that you proclaimed on the Mountain.
Make them men and women of the Beatitudes!
Let the light of your wisdom shine upon them,
so that in word and deed they may spread
in the world the light and salt of the Gospel.
Make their whole life a bright reflection of you,
who are the true light that came into this world
so that whoever believes in you will not die,
but will have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16)!