PLOVDIV, Bulgaria, MAY 26, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Winding up his 96th international trip, John Paul II urged youths in Bulgaria to be “salt and light” in the world.
“Jesus does not simply ask you to say or do something; Jesus asks you to be salt and light! And not just for a day but for your whole life,” the Pope told the youths who gathered for what was his most festive appearance in Bulgaria.
At the end of the celebration, the Holy Father improvised a few words in Polish and sang on his own in Polish the canticle to the Virgin of Czestochowa, in response to the young people who sang to him in Bulgarian.
“Our meeting is the last. I think that young people look very far into the future. I don´t know if I will be able to return to Bulgaria. I hope to be able to meet with you before the end of my pontificate,” he said in Polish. His words were almost inaudible amid the constant applause.
“I hope for your people that your tomorrow will be the most beautiful day. Jesus be praised for the new Bulgaria!” John Paul II added.
In his address, delivered in Bulgarian and read in part by a priest, the Holy Father left the youth with a message of French writer Léon Bloy (1846-1917): “There is only one sadness, that of not being saints.”
The papal address was centered on the theme for Toronto´s World Youth Day, “You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.”
The young people responded, crying out “Long live the Pope!”; “Holy Father, we are with you,” and “We´ll follow you with respect and love.”
The young people presented as a gift an icon with the images of Kamen Vichev, Josaphat Shishkov and Pavel Dzhidzhov — the three Bulgarian Catholic clergymen beatified during the Mass in Plovdiv. With the words “I embrace you all with love and bless you,” the Pope concluded his address to the young people. The Holy Father departed for Rome at 7 p.m. after an official ceremony.
The papal farewell took place in Plovdiv´s airport and was simple. John Paul II said in Italian: “The rain has come. May it be a good sign for Bulgaria and all Bulgarians.”
His official farewell address, read in Bulgarian by a priest, was a message for the Orthodox Church, to continue on the path to unity, and an invitation to all citizens, particularly Muslims and Jews, to build Bulgaria in “solidarity.”
This was the 96th international trip of this pontificate. It began Wednesday with a visit to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.