"Palm Sunday Has Become Your Day," Pope Tells Young People

Marks 20th Anniversary of International Event

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Some 50,000 people, the majority youths, celebrated the 20th anniversary of World Youth Day in St. Peter’s Square.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s vicar for Rome, presided over the Palm Sunday procession and Mass today marking the start of Holy Week.

John Paul II followed the Mass from his apartment in the Vatican, and his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square was open during the ceremony.

«I realize ever more how providential and prophetic it is that, precisely this day, Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, has become your day,» the Pope told the young people, in a text he wrote for the Angelus. Text was read on his behalf by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

During the homily of the Mass, Cardinal Ruini reflected on the cross, symbol of World Youth Day.

Witnessing «the many human sufferings, especially innocent suffering, we are very lost and forced to ask ourselves if God really loves and looks after us, or if an evil destiny exists that not even God can change,» he said.

«In the cross of Christ, however, we are in touch with God’s authentic face,» the cardinal said. «In the cross of Christ, God’s face does not lose its grandeur and mystery but, on the contrary, becomes extraordinarily close and friendly, as it is the face of the One who also shares to the end in his own Son the darkest side of the human condition.

«For this reason, from Christ’s cross a force and hope of redemption are spread over the whole of human suffering: the drama and mystery of suffering, which in the end is the drama and mystery of our life.»

As a result, he added, it «no longer appears to us as something dark and senseless.»

The cardinal concluded by encouraging young people to carry the cross of Christ, «understanding that it elicits fear,» especially in the «people of our time, who tend to see suffering only as something useless and harmful,» yet the cross reveals «the meaning of suffering as well as that of life.»

The Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko and Bishop Josef Clemens, president and secretary, respectively, of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as well as by Archbishop Luigi Moretti, auxiliary bishop of Rome.

The singing was entrusted to the choir and 200-piece orchestra under the direction of Monsignor Marco Frisina, of the diocesan choir of Rome.

The World Youth Day cross, which John Paul II gave to young people 20 years ago to carry around the world, presided today at the Palm Sunday celebrations in Cologne, Germany, where the next Youth Day will be held Aug. 15-21.

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