John Paul II's Thoughts on Eve of World Youth Day

Address Prior to Reciting the Angelus

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 21, 2002 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address to pilgrims gathered today for the midday Angelus at the summer papal residence. The address was in Italian.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. The memory is still alive of the Great Jubilee of Youth that took place in Rome in August 2000. In those unforgettable days, believing youths lit a flame of hope for all. They have now made an appointment for themselves within the next few days in Toronto, where the 17th World Youth Day will be held, to continue a common pilgrimage of fraternity across the planet.

The tragic events of last Sept. 11 and the conflict in the Holy Land have cast a dark shadow over the world. However, Jesus exhorts his disciples to fear not, and repeats to them: “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). The Christian youths who will meet in Toronto are ready to respond to Christ: Look! Here we are! In keeping with your word and without fear, we will cast the nets of the Gospel (see Luke 5:5).

2. God willing, I will leave the day after tomorrow to meet with young men and women from every corner of the earth, converging on Toronto: I go to pray with them and to enjoy an enriching experience of faith with them.

My thoughts turn especially to so many of their contemporaries who, unable to be present in person, will follow the event through the media. We will all be united in prayer, invoking the one Spirit, which makes of Christians one body in Christ.

Toronto, metropolis with a cosmopolitan vocation, is ready to become for a week the world capital of youth, future and hope of the Church and of humanity! Already now I greet and thank all those who are working to receive the young pilgrims, who will arrive together with numerous bishops, priests, men and women religious who will accompany them: Thank you very much! Merci beaucoup!

3. Dear French-speaking pilgrims, I greet you cordially, inviting you to pray for the young people who will gather in Canada for World Youth Day. May that intense time help them to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. With the apostolic blessing.

[Translation from French by ZENIT]

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[Among the various greetings at the end, the Pope added this in English:]

I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking visitors, hoping that the summer season will bring time for reflection and for reading the Scriptures. God bless you and your families!

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[The Holy Father then concluded in Italian.]

I greet affectionately the Italian-speaking pilgrims, particularly the participants in the International Course for Seminary Formators, promoted by the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum of the Legionaries of Christ, and the group of sisters and novices of the Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus of Rocca di Papa.

4. I entrust all to the Most Holy Virgin, praying that she will obtain for all who take part in World Youth Day the greatest effusion of graces and blessings. Today I ask you to pray, during the Angelus, for this particular intention.

“Angelus Domini …”

I wish all a good Sunday.

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