VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican spokesman says Benedict XVI is continuing Pope John Paul II’s special rapport with youth, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of young people who participated in the 25th World Youth Day.
Benedict XVI met with youth last Thursday and Sunday for celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s invention to energize and unite young Catholics around the globe. Youth Day celebrations were held this year at the diocesan level; next August, there will be a global gathering in Madrid.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, reflected on the twin celebrations in this week’s edition of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.”
“John Paul II’s great intuition made it possible for the vast educational and pastoral activity of the Church with youth to find — in this globalized world — catalytic moments capable of nourishing the joy of youth to celebrate together their faith in Christ and re-launch their commitment and hope,” he said.
The spokesman called young people the “heart of the Church,” saying they renew the youth of the Church itself.
“To them is proclaimed with ever new freshness that Christ is the meaning of life and of history,” Father Lombardi said. “Countless educators and saints dedicated their lives at the service of youth, who feel immensely grateful to them.
“This history is current and continues. What other great youth meetings speak to the world of hope as World Youth Days do?”
As the Church continues to face the reality that some young people have been abused by Church officials, Father Lombardi said these “rare” episodes must be “clearly combated and prevented.”
“With the Pope,” he said, “the journey continues to go forward with enthusiasm.”