"Go Against the Current," Pope Tells Youths

Meeting With Young Ukrainians Lifts John Paul II

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LVIV, Ukraine, JUNE 26, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II exhorted young people to follow Christ and «go against the current,» and he cautioned them that «freedom is demanding … more costly than slavery.»

Looking tired on fourth day of his visit to Ukraine, the Pope seemed to perk up when he saw the thousands of youths who turned out despite a relentless rain to greet him. He even joked with them and improvised songs from his youth.

John Paul II emphasized the Ten Commandments, lived out of love, as the compass for their lives. This was also the message of the hymns and Liturgy of the Word that framed the meeting of young people. The atmosphere at the Sykhiv esplanade, in front of a church in Lviv, was reminiscent of World Youth Days.

«Young people of Ukraine, Christ asks you to go against the current!» the Pope said. «He asks you to be defenders of his law, and to put it into practice in proper behavior in daily life. This ancient and ever valid law finds its perfect fulfillment in the Gospel.»

«It is love that animates our lives, and it is to true, free, and profound love that faithful observance of the Ten Commandments leads,» the Holy Father explained. «With this divine law solidly rooted in your hearts, do not be afraid: You will be fulfilled and will contribute to the building of a world marked by greater solidarity and justice.»

Given the inclement weather, the Pontiff´s aides signaled to him several times, to end the meeting. He paid no attention to them.

«Dear young people, your country is going through a difficult and complex transition from the totalitarian regime, which oppressed it for so many years, to a society at last free and democratic,» the Pope told his listeners. «Freedom, however, needs strong, responsible, and mature consciences. Freedom is demanding, and in a sense is more costly than slavery!»

«For this reason,» he concluded, «as I embrace you like a father, I say to you: choose the narrow path that the Lord is showing you through his commandments.»

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