ROME, APRIL 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Agostino Vallini remembered John Paul II’s love for humanity and devotion to youth when he addressed participants in the Marian prayer vigil leading up to Sunday’s beatification of the Polish Pontiff.
“He lived for God. He offered himself entirely to God to serve the Church as a sacrificial offering,” said the cardinal, who is Benedict XVI’s vicar for Rome. The cardinal presided at the vigil, which was held in Rome tonight at the Circus Maximus.
“We feel veneration, affection, admiration, and deep gratitude for the beloved Pontiff,” he added.
The cardinal spoke about John Paul II’s witness of faith: “a convinced and strong faith, free from fear or compromises, true until his last breath, forged by trials, fatigue, and illness, whose beneficent influence has spread throughout the Church, indeed, throughout the world.”
In a speech that seemed to highlight Cardinal Vallini’s best memories of the Pontiff, he noted John Paul’s “long hours of prayer” and his work “penetrated and infused by prayer.”
“We were all amazed by the docility of spirit with which he faced the pilgrimage of his disease, even to the point of agony and death,” he continued.
“He loved the human person, pushing us to develop in ourselves the potential of faith to live as free persons, cooperating in the realization of a more just and caring humanity, as workers for peace and builders of hope,” the cardinal recalled.
And, he added, “In his extraordinary energy of love for humanity he loved, with a kind and tender love, all those ‘wounded by life,’ as he called the poor, the sick, the nameless, and those excluded a priori.”
Cardinal Vallini spoke of John Paul II’s “particular love” for youth, and reflected on his initiative to call World Youth Days, in order to make youth “into the protagonists of their own future, becoming builders of history.”
“The remembrance of our beloved Pontiff, prophet of hope, should not mean a return to the past for us,” he declared.
The cardinal recommended making the most of John Paul II’s “human and spiritual heritage.”
“Let it be an impetus to look forward,” he said. “May the words that he wrote in his apostolic letter ‘Novo millennio ineunte’ from the great Jubilee Year of 2000 resound in our hearts: ‘Let us go forward in hope! […] The Son of God … is at work even today: we need discerning eyes to see this and, above all, a generous heart to become the instruments of his work.'”
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32434?l=english