John Paul II Signs Up as Youth-Day Pilgrim

Registers for Cologne Event via Web Site

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 7, 2004 ( Seated in front of a computer screen featuring the World Youth Day 2005 logo, John Paul II tapped a key and registered as the first pilgrim on the Web page of the event.

The symbolic gesture took place Thursday, when the Pope received a representation of young Europeans in audience at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

During the audience, after the young people’s greeting, the Holy Father was presented “The Commitment,” a letter of young European Catholics, written on Aug. 7 at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in the context of the European Youth Pilgrimage, organized for the Compostelan holy year.

The Pope’s words, the young people’s greeting, and the gesture of registration in World Youth Day were transmitted last Saturday in Loreto during the youths’ vigil that preceded their Sunday meeting with the Pope. The Youth Day is set for next August in Cologne, Germany.

The delegation John Paul II received was composed of 40 youths, led by French Father Francis Khon, in charge of the Youth Office of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and by Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, assistant general of Italian Catholic Action.

Young Elisabetta Fiorani, of Catholic Action of Reggio Emilia, in Italy, greeted the Pope on the youths’ behalf and gave him the text of “The Commitment.”

“It is a brief act of commitment which expresses our feeling, ideal and concretion, as citizens and believers of the European community,” Fiorani explained.

“We have questioned ourselves on some challenges that affect our continent: from intercultural dialogue to peace and development, from the family to citizenship and job training,” she said.

“These are topics that challenge us personally and that require our intelligence and passion. This is the reason we have decided to address them and to read them in an interpretative note of hope,” she added.

“To look at Europe with hope means to look at the whole world with hope, responding to Christ’s call with the same enthusiasm of the Apostle James: We can!” Fiorani concluded.

In his response, the Holy Father asked the young people to “be witnesses of Christ to build a Europe of hope.”

“The dream you carry in your hearts is that of a Europe proud of its rich cultural and religious heritage and attentive at the same time to the values of man and life, of solidarity and acceptance, of justice and peace,” he said.

“You are not ashamed of the Gospel, and are aware that the civilization of love is built, not by separating the Gospel from culture, but by seeking ever new syntheses in them,” the Pope explained.

“This is the way that must be followed to give life to a continent rich above all in values, capable of remembering, so as not to forget the errors of the past and, more than that, to strengthen its own spiritual roots,” he indicated.

He added: “To carry out this mission of yours, fidelity to Christ and to his Church, consistency and courage even to the heroism of holiness are necessary.”

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