26-July-2002 -- Vatican Information Service |

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VATICAN CITY, JUL 25, 2002 (VIS) - The Pope traveled by helicopter this afternoon from Strawberry Island to Toronto where, at 4:30 p.m., he participated in the welcome party of the youth at Exhibition Place. The theme of the celebration was the Beatitudes.

After greetings by Bishop Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., of St. Jean Longueuil, and by five young people from five continents, the Holy Father said a few words.

John Paul II assured the 300,000 young people present from all over the world that he has "been eagerly looking forward to this meeting." While listening "to the long list of countries from which you come, we have practically made a trip round the world. Behind each of you I have glimpsed the faces of all your fellow young people whom I have met in the course of my apostolic travels, and whom in a way you represent here."

"The Pope, who loves you dearly, has come from afar to listen again with you to Jesus' words ... These words can set the hearts of young people aflame and motivate their whole lives. I invite you then to make the various activities of this World Youth Day which is just beginning a special time when each of you listens attentively to the Lord, with a willing and generous heart, in order to become the 'salt of the earth and light of the world'."

Subsequently, the procession of the Holy Year Cross took place and two young Canadians gave testimony about the cross' journey through Canada. The reading of the Gospel of the Beatitudes and the Pope's address followed.

John Paul II said to the young people that their songs and cries of joy had shown their desire to be happy. "Many of these voices speak to you of a joy that can be had with money, with success, with power. Mostly they propose a joy that comes with the superficial and fleeting pleasure of the senses."

"True joy," he continued, "is a victory, something which cannot be obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory ... It is by walking with Christ that we can achieve joy, true joy!"

The Holy Father emphasized that "with your gaze set firmly on Him" young people could "discover the path of forgiveness and reconciliation in a world often laid waste by violence and terror. Last year we saw with dramatic clarity the tragic face of human malice. We saw what happens when hatred, sin and death take command. But today Jesus' voice resounds in the midst of our gathering. His is a voice of life, of hope, of forgiveness; a voice of justice and of peace. Let us listen to this voice!"

"Dear friends," he continued, "the Church today looks to you with confidence and expects you to be the people of the Beatitudes. Only Jesus is the true Master, only Jesus speaks the unchanging message that responds to the deepest longings of the human heart. ... Today he calls you to be the salt and light of the world, to choose goodness, to live in justice, to become instruments of love and peace."

The Pope highlighted that "to believe in Jesus is to accept what he says, even when it runs contrary to what other are saying. ... Young people listening to me," he concluded, "answer the Lord with strong and generous hearts! He is counting on you. Never forget: Christ needs you to carry out his plan of salvation! Christ needs your youth and your generous enthusiasm to make his proclamation of joy resound in the new millennium. Answer his call by placing your lives at his service in your brothers and sisters! Trust Christ, because he trusts you."

Once the speech was over, the official World Youth Day 2002 song was performed. After imparting his blessing, the Pope said goodbye to the thousands of young people present and headed toward the helicopter which he boarded for Strawberry Island where he will spend Friday.

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