Steer Clear of Mediocrity and Conformism, Pope Urges Youth

Papal Message for World Youth Day 2002

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 31, 2001 ( In an era when many people «think and act as if God did not exist,» John Paul II is calling the world´s youth to be missionaries faithful to great ideals.

This is the essence of his message for the next World Youth Day (WYD) scheduled for July 18-28, 2002, in Toronto.

«Do not be content with anything less than the highest ideals!» John Paul II says in his message, which was distributed today by the Vatican in seven languages. Part of the message was heard Saturday in Toronto during the official launching of the last year of preparation for WYD 2002.

«Do not let yourselves be dispirited by those who are disillusioned with life, and have grown deaf to the deepest and most authentic desires of their heart,» the Pope writes.

«You are right to be disappointed with hollow entertainment and passing fads, and with aiming at too little in life,» he adds. «If you have an ardent desire for the Lord, you will steer clear of the mediocrity and conformism so widespread in our society.»

Last year´s World Youth Day in Rome attracted more than 2 million youths. The 1995 Youth Day in Manila, Philippines, attracted more than 5 million people, the largest gathering in history. About 300,000 have already registered for WYD 2002.

In his message John Paul II says: «Our personal encounter with Christ bathes life in new light, sets us on the right path, and sends us out to be his witnesses.»

He continues: «In this secularized age, when many of our contemporaries think and act as if God did not exist, or are attracted to irrational forms of religion, it is you, dear young people, who must show that faith is a personal decision that involves your whole life.»

In effect, the 81-year old Pontiff calls youth to become missionaries in today´s society, and offers them the following advice:

First, «study the Word of God and let it enlighten your minds and hearts.»

Second, «draw strength from the sacramental grace of reconciliation and the Eucharist. Visit the Lord in that ´heart to heart´ contact that is Eucharistic Adoration.»

Third, the Holy Father asks the young «to bring comfort to the suffering and peace to the world,» as «many people are wounded by life: They are excluded from economic progress, and are without a home, a family, a job; there are people who are lost in a world of false illusions, or have abandoned all hope.»

In a word, «let the Gospel be the measure and guide of life´s decision and plans!» he urges.

On Saturday, in Toronto, about 5,000 young people gathered in Nathan Phillips Square for the official launching of the countdown to WYD. The event included music, dance, prayer and Scripture readings. Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of Toronto, was among the guests.

Addressing the participants, Hana Gartner, a CBC Television star, said: «Youth are the salt of the earth. So can there be anything more positive or inspirational for our country or our city than to act as a beacon that will draw youth from around the world to celebrate their faith and proclaim their spirituality? We will all be enriched by the experience.»

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