VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- John Paul II is convinced: Christianity needs the “Christian Authenticity” of the youth — genuine missionaries at the beginning of the Third Millennium.
This morning he confirmed this by receiving 7000 young people in the general audience hall at the Vatican. The young participants form part of the Youth Missionary Service (SERMIG), an association that emerged in 1964 at the initiative of layman Ernest Olivero of Italy´s industrial capital, Turin.
This movement is characterized by a simple and fraternal community lifestyle, which aims to proclaim the Gospel through reconciliation initiatives in different parts of the world.
Since 1983, SERMIG has been centered in the ancient military arsenal of Turin, which was found almost completely in ruins. Now, renovated and revitalized, it has been become the “Arsenal of Peace.”
In this way, the youth people of SERMIG celebrated today with John Paul II the Jubilee of Peace. During the ceremony, the Pope´s Letter to Young People, a letter written with the support of the more than 400 youth groups that have visited the Arsenal of Peace in recent years, was read for the first time.
One thousand young people of age 16 to 36, and representing numerous religious, political, and social groups, were named “Peacemakers” and were the first to sign the letter.
John Paul II, after acknowledging the work of the participants, observed in the audience that, “sometimes the world appears wrapped in darkness; the darkness of those who hunger, those who die, those who have no shelter, work, or necessary assistance; the darkness of violence or the desperation that leads some to commit suicide.”
“Who can conquer darkness?” the Pope asked the young men and women present. “The world has need of the light of Christ,” he answered. “It needs you also, it needs your enthusiasm and support to spread this light to all walks of life.”
Only the Christian message, the Pope explained, can make the difference. In this way, he invited the youth to accept Christianity in their hearts in order to give witness to it later.
“Continue on this path,” concluded the Pope to those present, “consecrate your life to the cause of peace. In the era of globalization it is necessary to ´globalize´ solidarity and love, so that the liberating message of the Gospel may spread everywhere. This often implies going against the current, being misunderstood, and on occasion, even marginalized. But it is indispensable to be coherent with your principles and remain faithful to Christ and the Church.”