“The cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) are thieves because they have stolen my heart.” These were the words of Pope Francis to the organizers of last year’s World Youth Day in Brazil, when he met with them Monday at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
The Pope began his address recalling his visit to Brazil and the warm reception he received. “I will take advantage of your presence here today to thank them (the people of Rio de Janeiro) for this robbery,” the Pope said referring to how they stole his heart.
Acknowledging the challenges in preparing an event of that magnitude, the Holy Father told the organizers that despite the difficulties, the action of God was made manifest. The final Mass, which was held at Copacabana Beach, saw the participation of an estimated 3 million pilgrims from around the world.
“It is the dynamic of the multiplication of the loaves,” the Holy Father told the organizers. “When Jesus asks the apostles to feed the multitude, they knew that it was impossible. However, they were generous. They gave the Lord everything they had. And Jesus multiplied their efforts. Is it not what happened at World Youth Day?”
The 77-year-old Pontiff called on the organizers to look toward the future with the assurance that God will multiply their efforts in being missionary disciples in their country.
“We cannot rest easy knowing that many of our brethren live without power, light or the comfort of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to welcome them, without a horizon of meaning and life,” he said.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis encouraged those present to follow the example of Jose de Anchieta, the Apostle of Brazil who was declared a saint last week. Through his intercession, the Pope said, I encourage you to move forward, with joy and courage in the beautiful mission of keeping alive in the hearts of Brazilians, the flame of love for Christ and his Church.” (J.A.E.)
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On ZENIT’s webpage:
For the Pope’s address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-the-organizing-committee-of-wyd-rio-de-janeiro-2014