PARIS, DEC. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The international Christian community has appealed to young people to become agents of reconciliation and peace in the world.
This is the essence of messages received by the Taizé Community on the eve of the 25th European Meeting, set for Dec. 28 to Jan. 1 in Paris. Some 80,000 young people are expected to attend.
The initiative aims to motivate the young to be “pilgrims of trust on earth,” committed in their home towns and parishes to all generations, from children to the elderly.
“This gathering is a sign of hope for our world,” John Paul II said in his message. “It shows that the young of today are thirsting for truth, happiness, beauty and for an absolute, and that they are striving to give meaning to their lives.”
“In regular prayer, by reading the Scriptures diligently, by a strong sacramental life, the young will encounter Christ, who will show them the Father’s face of kindly love and who will manifest his presence to them throughout their lives,” the Pope added.
Young people, like “the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:11)” will “have their eyes open to see the new dawn arise — hope in a future of justice and peace, of love and reconciliation, gifts of God for our earth, toward the development of which each person has to make his contribution,” the Pontiff wrote.
Likewise, Alexy II, the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, reminded young people of their role in the construction of peace.
“Today, while the forces of evil are threatening people across the world, sowing hatred and death, we need to come together for reconciliation among those who belong to different cultures and denominations,” the Orthodox leader said. “You are called to share a common responsibility in strengthening justice, concord and mutual respect.”
“If we do not unite around Christ, we cannot resist the spirit of this world — individualism, consumerism, divisions and conflicts,” Alexy II added. “To conquer evil, it is up to us to transfigure the contemporary world by the truth of the Gospel; it is up to us to follow Christ.”
Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople invited young people to pray “for the unity of the Church and for reconciliation of human beings with God and among themselves.”
“Pray for peace throughout the world, a world again in danger. Pray for the protection of nature, damaged by human greed and irresponsibility,” he added.
“God is giving the young extraordinary opportunities to become his collaborators for the purpose of bettering the quality of life and ensuring the advancement of society, in which justice, gentleness, tolerance, brotherhood and solidarity will reign,” Bartholomew I emphasized.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also addressed a message to the participants in the forthcoming gathering of the Taizé Community.
“In this world where at times it seems that intolerance is gaining each day, your meeting offers a powerful message of tolerance and solidarity,” he said. “May the faith that unites you help you to bring this message beyond your own community!”
Since 1978 — venue of the first meeting in Paris — the annual European gathering can attract as many as 100,000 young people. They stay in parishes during the event.
On some occasions, meetings have been held in other continents, such as those organized in Madras, India; Manila, Philippines; Dayton, Ohio; and Johannesburg, South Africa.