VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2004 ( John Paul II says the soon-to-start Year of the Eucharist seeks to help Christians to witness to Christ in the world, especially with charity.

Before praying the Angelus with the 20,000 people gathered today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope united himself "spiritually" with the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress scheduled to take place a few hours later in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The closing of the Guadalajara event, whose theme is "The Eucharist, Light and Life of the New Millennium," will mark the start of the Year of the Eucharist, as established by the Holy Father.

To this end, John Paul II last Friday published an apostolic letter entitled "Mane Nobiscum, Domine" (Stay with Us, Lord).

"May this invocation resound in every Christian community: that in recognizing the resurrected Christ 'in the breaking of the bread,' the faithful will witness to him with concrete charity," the Pope said when addressing the crowd in St. Peter's Square.

A concrete example of this proclamation of Christ is Caritas, an institution present in thousands of dioceses worldwide, one of the channels with which the Christian community offers a service of assistance, especially to the neediest.

Recalling the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of Caritas in the Diocese of Rome, the Holy Father encouraged "the ecclesial community to continue with the work of formation and with activities in the service of the poor and needy."

After reciting the Angelus, the Pope reminded those present that next Sunday, through a television link, he will join the participants at the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara.

"I invite the faithful," he said, "to participate in great numbers in this important ecclesial event to offer joint homage to Christ, Light and Life of the new millennium."