Pope Francis' Address to the Organizing Committee of WYD Rio de Janeiro 2014

«They stole my heart!»

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Today, Pope Francis received in audience – in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace –, the members of the Organizing Committee of the World Youth Day at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The following is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present.

* * *

Dear Friends,

Nine months after my unforgettable trip to Brazil, where I was received with open arms by the Carioca people, I feel a special joy today in receiving this group, led by Cardinal Dom Orani Tempesta, which represents all those who in some way collaborated in the 28th World Youth Day, making it possible for the love of God to touch – literally – the heart of millions of persons.

Speaking from my heart, I have a confidence to share with you: When I arrived in Brazil, in my first official address, I said that I wished to enter by the door of the immense heart of Brazilians, asking permission to knock delicately at their door and spend a week with the Brazilian people. However, at the end of that week, on returning to Rome full of longing, I realized that the Cariocas are “thieves”! Yes, “thieves,” because they stole my heart! I take advantage of your presence here today to thank you for this “theft.” Thank you very much for having infected me with your enthusiasm there in Rio de Janeiro, and for helping me today to “kill” my longing for Brazil.

As I was saying, each one of you present here represents the laity, Religious, priests and Bishops who gave their generous contribution during the Day. I know it was not easy to organize an event of such dimensions. I imagine that, at times, there were those who thought that it would not turn out right. Therefore, how good it is to be able to look back and see that the hours of work, the sacrifices, and even the passing misunderstandings were a small thing when compared with the grandiosity of God’s action on our poor human resources. It is the dynamic of the multiplication of loaves. When Jesus asked the Apostles to give the multitude something to eat, they knew it was impossible. However, they were generous. They gave the Lord all that they had. And Jesus multiplied their efforts. Was it not so with the World Youth Day?

However, we must not look back. Rather, we must look to the future, strengthened by the certainty that God will always multiply our efforts. Jesus constantly repeats to us: “”you give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37). That is why, this miracle lived in the World Youth Day must be repeated every day, in every parish, in every community, in each one’s personal apostolate! We cannot remain tranquil knowing that there are still “so many of our brothers who live without the strength, light and consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith that receives them, without a horizon of meaning and of life” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelium gaudium, 45). That is why, it is necessary to re-think those three ideas that, in a certain sense, summarize the whole message of the World Youth Day: go forth, without fear, to serve. We must be an “outgoing Church” (cf. Ibid., 20), as missionaries disciples who are not afraid of the difficulties, as we have already seen that the Lord multiplies our efforts, and that is why we are always more motivated in serving, giving ourselves without reservations, full of the joy of the Gospel.

Dear friends, in carrying out this commitment, we look at the example of Jose de Anchieta, the Apostle of Brazil, recently declared Saint. In one of his letters, he wrote: “Nothing is difficult for those who warm the heart and have as their only end the glory of God and the salvation of souls, for which they do not hesitate to give their life” (Letter to Father Tiago Laynez). Then and through his intercession I encourage you to go forth, with joy and courage in the beautiful mission of keeping alive in the heart of Brazilians the flame of love for Christ and for his Church. I thank you again for your presence and ask you never to stop praying for me. Thank you very much!

[Translation by ZENIT]
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