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Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Youth in Loreto

VATICAN CITY, SEP 1, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly after 4 p.m. today, the Pope departed by helicopter from the pontifical residence at Castelgandolfo bound for the Italian shrine of Loreto where he presided at a national meeting of young people concluding the first year of the "Agora" of Italian youth. The event is being promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

At 5.15 p.m., the Pope's helicopter arrived at the John Paul II Center at Montorso near Loreto. From there the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to the esplanade of Montorso where he joined 300,000 young people for a prayer vigil during which he replied to a number of questions that were put to him.

One question addressed "the disquiet shared by many young people from all parts of the world and all religions" concerning their place in history and their fear of being left on the margins. The Pope replied by indicating how "according to the divine plan, the world has no margins. ... For God we are all at the center, ... equally loved and called to undertake great deeds, ... each using his or her own talents."

"Dear young people," said the Pope, "in Jesus' name I repeat to you tonight: Go! Live! Love! In God's eyes each of you is important, You are important to your family and friends, ... to your country, to the entire world, to the Church and to Jesus Christ." The Holy Father also exhorted the young people not to feel marginalized "because no life is unimportant. ... You must realize that you are important protagonists, because you are at the center of God's love."

Benedict XVI then delivered a talk to the participants, whom he described as "the hope of the Church in Italy," and he invited them "to open their hearts and offer everything to Jesus" with the "interior strength and trusting abandonment" that was Mary's.

"What a stupendous exhibition of youthful and inspiring faith we are experiencing this evening!" he cried. "This evening, thanks to you, Loreto has become the spiritual capital of youth, the center towards which multitudes of young people on the five continents turn. ... The Pope is close to you, and for each of you he asks from the Lord the gift of a full and happy life, a life rich in meaning."

"Today, unfortunately, a full and happy life is not infrequently seen by many young people as a distant dream. ... Do not be afraid, Christ can fulfil the most intimate aspirations of your heart! ... Each one of you, if you remain united to Christ, can achieve great things. ... You should not be afraid to dream of great plans for goodness, and you should not let yourselves be discouraged by difficulties. Christ has trust in you and wants you to realize all your most noble and exalted dreams of true happiness."

The Holy Father then recalled the Annunciation, when the angel told Mary "of her participation, in the most intimate possible way, in the greatest of God's plans: the salvation of humanity." The Pope emphasized how "her 'yes' changed her life and the history of humanity entire. ... And from Mary we learn to pronounce our own 'yes,' because she really knows what it means to respond generously to the requests of the Lord."

Mary, Benedict XVI continued, "knows of your great desire for love, your need to love and to be loved. Looking at her, ... you will discover the beauty of love. ... true and profound love." All young people starting out in life "cultivate the dream of a love that will give full meaning to their future. For many of them this is achieved in marriage and the creation of a family."

"I well know that today such a dream is becoming ever less easy to accomplish. How many failures of love do we see around us! ... The Mother of God, the community of believers and the Pope are near you and pray that the crisis affecting families in our time does not become irreversible," said the Holy Father, and he renewed his invitation to participants "not to be afraid," because "for those who trust in God nothing is impossible.

"This is true for people destined for married life," he added, "and even more so for those whom God has called to a life of complete detachment from the goods of the earth and of complete dedication to His Kingdom. Among you are those directed towards the priesthood, consecrated life, and others who aspire to be missionaries."

"Be certain that a life dedicated to God is never spent in vain," said the Holy Father. He then concluded his talk by reminding the young people of the celebrations for World Youth Day 2008, due to take place in Sydney, Australia. "Let us pray," he said, "that the Lord Who accomplishes all prodigies may enable many of you to be there."

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