On World Youth Day in Rio

«The WYD experience reminds us of the really great news of history, the Good News»

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Here is a translation of the Pope’s address during this morning’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

We take up again the course of catecheses after the August vacations, but today I would like to talk to you about my trip to Brazil, on the occasion of the World Youth Day. More than a month has gone by, but I think it’s important to return to this event, and the distance of time enables us to understand its significance.

First of all I would like to thank the Lord, because He was the one who guided everything with His providence. For me, who come from the Americas, it was a lovely gift! And for this I thank Our Lady of Aparecida, who accompanied us the whole of this trip: I did the pilgrimage to the great Brazilian national shrine, and her venerated image was always present on the stage of the WYD. 

I was very happy about this, because Our Lady of Aparecida is very important for the history of the Church in Brazil, but also for the whole of Latin America. The Latin American and Caribbean bishops held a General Assembly in Aparecida with Pope Benedict: a very significant stage in the pastoral journey of that part of the world, where the greater part of the Catholic Church lives.

Although I’ve already done so, I want to renew my gratitude to all the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, to the volunteers, to security, to the parish communities of Rio de Janeiro and of other cities of Brazil, where the pilgrims were received with great fraternity. In fact, the hospitality of the Brazilian families and parishes was one of the most beautiful characteristics of this WYD. These Brazilians are good people. Good people! They really have a great heart. 

Pilgrimages always entail challenges, but hospitality helps to surmount them and, in fact, transforms them into occasions of familiarity and friendship. Bonds are born that later remain, above all, in prayer. In this way also the Church grows throughout the world as a network of true friendships in Jesus Christ, a network that while seizing you frees you. So, welcome: this is the first word that emerges from the experience of the trip to Brazil. Welcome!

Another summarizing word can be celebration. The WYD is always a celebration, because when a city is filled with boys and girls who go around the streets with flags from the all over the world, greeting one another and embracing each other, this is a real celebration. It is a sign for all, not only for believers. But then there is the greatest celebration, which is the celebration of the faith, when together we praise the Lord, we sing, we listen to the Word of God, remaining in the silence of adoration: all this is the culmination of the WYD, it’s the real aim of this great pilgrimage, and it’s lived in a particular way in the great Vigil of Saturday evening and in the final Mass. See: this is great celebration, the celebration of the faith and of fraternity, which begins this way and will have no end. However, this is possible only with the Lord! Without the love of God there’s not true celebration for man!

Welcome, celebration. But a third element can’t be lacking: mission. This WYD was characterized by a missionary theme: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” We heard the word of Jesus: it’s the mission he gives to all! It’s the mandate of the Risen Christ to his disciples: “Go,” go out of yourselves, out of every enclosure to take the light and love of the Gospel to all, to the farthest ends of existence! And it was in fact this mandate of Jesus that I entrusted to the young people who filled, beyond what the eye could see, the beach of Copacabana. A symbolic place, the shore of the ocean, which made one think of the shore of Lake Galilee. Yes, because today also, the Lord repeats: “Go …”, and He adds: “I am with you always …” This is fundamental! We can bring the Gospel only with Christ. Without Him, we can do nothing, as He himself said to us (cf. John 15:5). With Him, instead, united to Him, we can do so much. Also a boy or a girl, who in the eyes of the world counts little or not at all, in the eyes of God is an apostle of the Kingdom, he/she is a hope for God! 

I would like to ask all young people forcefully — but I don’t know if there are young people today in the Square: are there young people in the Square? — There are some! I would like to ask you all strongly: Do you want to be a hope for God? Do you want to be a hope? [Young people: “Yes!”] Do you want to be a hope for the Church? [Young people: “Yes!”] A young heart, that receives the love of Christ, is transformed into hope for others, is an immense force! But you, boys and girls, all young people, you must transform yourselves and be transformed into hope! Open the doors to a new world of hope. This is your task. Do you want to be hope for us all? [Young people: “Yes!”]. 

Let us think what that multitude of young people means that encountered the Risen Christ at Rio de Janeiro and carry His love in everyday life, they live it, they communicate it. They are not going to end up in the newspapers because they don’t engage in acts of violence, they don’t cause scandals and, so, they don’t make news. However, if they remain united to Christ, they build His Kingdom, they build fraternity, sharing, works of mercy; they are a powerful force to render the world more just and more beautiful, to transform it! I would now like to ask the boys and girls who are here in the Square (…) do you have the courage to pick up this challenge? [Young people: “Yes!”] Do you have the courage or not? I heard little … [Young people: “Yes!”] Are you able to be this force of love and mercy that has the courage to want to transform the world? [Young people: “Yes!”]

Dear friends, the WYD experience reminds us of the really great news of history, the Good News, even if it doesn’t appear in the newspapers and on television: we are loved by God, who is our Father and who has sent His Son Jesus to be close to each one of us and to save us. He has sent Jesus to save us, and forgive us everything, because He always forgives: He always forgives, because He is good and merciful. 

Remember: welcome, celebration, mission. Three words: welcome, celebration and mission. May these words not be only a memory of what happened at Rio, but may they be the heart of our life and that of our divine communities, contributing to build a more just world, a world of greater solidarity.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT] [A summary of the catechesis and greeting in English] [Speaker:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters: today I would like to speak about my recent visit to Brazil for World Youth Day. As someone from the Americas, I thank the Lord who in his providence gave me this beautiful gift! I also thank Our Lady of Aparecida for her constant presence. Reiterating my thanks to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, I want to say how wonderful the Brazilians are! There are three words I would use to describe my visit: welcome, celebration and mission. The World Youth Day was firstly characterized by the welcome extended to all of us; every visit has its challenges, but they can be transformed by a great welcome. Next, celebration: the culmination of World Youth Day is experienced when we praise the Lord, listen to his word and adore him in silence. The third element is mission: Our Lord said “Go […] and make disciples of all nations.” Then he added, “I am with you always.” This is essential! It is only with Christ that we can bring the gospel to others. Welcome, celebration, mission: may these words not simply remind us of Rio, but be a source of inspiration for our lives and communities. 

[The Holy Father then greeted the English-speaking pilgrims in Italian.] [A speaker offered the translation:]

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s A
udience, including those from England, Wales, Malta, Ethiopia, Australia, South Korea, Canada and the United States. May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord and his Church. God bless you all

[Original text: English] [At the end of the audience, the Holy Father made this appeal:]

Next Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and in the whole world. Also for peace in our hearts, because peace begins in the heart! I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely and, right now, I express my gratitude to the other Christian brothers, to the brothers of other religions and to men and women of good will who wish to join us, in the places and ways proper to them, for this moment. I exhort in particular the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the Vigil of Prayer here, in St. Peter’s Square, at 7:00 pm to invoke from the Lord the great gift of peace. May the cry for peace be raised strongly throughout the earth!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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