Preach to peers, Pope urges youth in Brazil

Sao Paulo, May. 11, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Addressing a massive crowd of young people at a soccer stadium in Sao Paulo on Thursday evening, May 10, Pope Benedict XVI charged his audience, "Do not waste your youth!"

The Holy Father urged the young people-- who had filled Paulo Machado de Carvalho stadium to overflowing and crowded the surrounding streets-- to be "apostles to the young."

Organizers of the Thursday event had distributed 40,000 tickets for the gathering. But the seating there proved grossly inadequate for the crowd that arrived to see the Pope. Although the tickets were distributed at no cost, scalpers were claiming 160 Brazilian reals ($80) for a seat inside the stadium, while tens of thousands of people had no choice but to remain outside, watching the event on four gigantic video screens. The entire crowd was estimated at 200,000.

Pope Benedict arrived short before 6 to preside at a Liturgy of the Word. In this ceremony, during readings from the Song of Songs, a video presentation showed pictures of the Brazilian countryside, highlighting concern for the environment, a particularly important current issue in Brazil.

Citing the words of his predecessor Pope John Paul II, on a 1991 visit to Brazil, the Pope said that young people will be "the main protagonists of the third millennium, and "will decide the destiny of this new stage of humanity."

Many of the world's young people today live in fear, the Pope observed: fear of death, of failure, of lack of meaning in life, of isolation. He urged his listeners to help their contemporaries find Christ. Young believers, he said, are not merely the future of the Church but a part of the present as well: a young face of Christianity, "without which the Church would be disfigured."

The Pontiff encourage young people to enter the field of social action as well, assuring them that this work would be productive "so long as their source of inspiration is always the Gospel and the Church's social doctrine."

Pope Benedict paid special attention to the need for young people to prepare for their vocations. If called to marriage, he encouraged them to "respect one another during the period of courtship and engagement." Some, he pointed out, would be "called to a total and definitive sacrifice, consecrating themselves to God in religious life."

"Youth is a form of wealth," the Pope observed. "Consecrate it to the ideals of faith and of human solidarity."



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