These Youth Have Purpose, Notes Cardinal

Welcomes Benedict XVI to Madrid

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MADRID, Spain, AUG. 19, 2011 ( The archbishop of Madrid welcomed Benedict XVI to his city Thursday noting that the young people filling the streets notably “have a deep sense of their purpose in life.”

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela’s greeting to the Pope praised the hundreds of thousands of young people in Madrid for the 26th World Youth Day.

Alluding to the theme of the event, the cardinal, who will turn 75 next week, said the youth have made their own the project of planting and building up their lives in Christ.

“Their blessed and radiant joy is easily explainable, beloved Holy Father,” he said. “The successor of Peter, ‘the Vicar of Christ and visible Head of the whole Church, the house of the living God’ has come to this gathering to strengthen them in that faith which opens their hearts to the grace and love of Jesus Christ, which has the ability to change their lives forever and fill them with joy, a contagious joy capable of transforming not only their own lives, but also the lives of their families and home towns. The Pope calls to them to be ‘witnesses of joy’ and that they will be.”

The cardinal said their deep sense of purpose is because “they are filled with the truth, because they are filled with Christ.”

Blessed founder

On Tuesday, the cardinal archbishop of Madrid led the kick-off for World Youth Day with a Mass concelebrated by some 800 bishops and cardinals, as well as some 8,000 priests.

They used the liturgy for the memorial of Blessed John Paul II.

From Cibeles Square, the same venue in which John Paul II gathered hundreds of thousands of youth in 1982, 1993 and 2003, Cardinal Rouco highlighted the great influence that the Polish Pope had on the new way of evangelizing young people.

With John Paul II, explained the cardinal in the homily, “a new historic period began — unheard of! — in the relationship of the Successor of Peter with youth and, consequently, a previously unknown relationship of the Church with her young people: a direct, immediate, heart to heart relationship permeated by faith in the Lord, in Jesus Christ, enthusiastic, hopeful, joyful, infectious.”

“Since that first convocation of the 1985 Day in Rome up to this Day in Madrid, a beautiful story of faith, hope and love has been unfolding in three generations of young Catholics and non-Catholics,” he reflected.

Blessed John Paul II’s “passionate love of Jesus Christ is precisely what fascinated and captivated young people. They understood that they were really wanted and loved by the Pope: without flattery or dissimulation, or self-interest, deceit or superficiality, but with the authenticity that he sought only their good.”

New generation

The cardinal, who hosted the 1989 World Youth Day as archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, reflected on how the young people who have come to Madrid today are a different generation than those who gathered around the Polish Pontiff in the 80s.

“Your ‘place in life’ has its peculiarities,” he told them. “Your problems and life circumstances have been modified. Globalization, the new communication technologies, the economic crisis, etc. condition you for good or, on many occasions, for evil.”

The youth of the 21st century, he explained, “need just as much, or more than previous generations, to encounter the Lord on the only way that has been demonstrated to be spiritually effective: that of a humble and simple pilgrim who seeks his face.”

“Keep in mind during these days that, through the Pope, the Lord will ask you: Do you accept the formidable and beautiful challenge of ‘the new evangelization’ of your contemporary young people?” the cardinal told them. “Answer him that you do, recalling that vibrant and courageous exhortation of John Paul II in the Homily of Monte del Gozo on Aug. 20, 1989: ‘Do not be afraid to be saints’! ‘Let Christ reign in your hearts!'”

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