27-July-2002 -- Vatican Information Service |

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VATICAN CITY, JUL 27, 2002 (VIS) - This afternoon the Pope went from the Mother House of the Sisters of St. Joseph to Downsview Park in Toronto to participate in the Vigil with young people from all over the world. The gathering had the same theme as World Youth Day: "You are the salt of the earth; you are light of the world."

Downsview Park used to be a military airport. It was converted into the first urban national park with its 260 hectareas. The Holy Father celebrated Mass here during his pastoral visit in 1984.

After taking a ride in the popemobile while greeting 500,000 young people from 173 countries, the Holy Father went up to the podium, installed on a large stage.

The event included a welcome from young Canadians to the Pope and the pilgrims, testimony by several youths from different continents, liturgy of the Word, a speech by the Pope, prayers of the faithful, a final blessing and the singing of the World Youth Day 2002 song, 'Light of the World.'

At the beginning of his speech, John Paul II recalled that when in 1985 he started the World Youth Days he imagined them to be "a powerful moment in which young people of the world could meet Christ, who is eternally young, and could learn from Him how to be bearers of the Gospel to other young people. This evening, together with you, I praise God and give thanks to him for the gift bestowed on the Church through the World Youth Days."

"The new millennium opened with two contrasting scenarios: one, the sight of multitudes of pilgrims coming to Rome during the Great Jubilee" and "the terrible terrorist attack on New York, an image that is a sort of icon of a world in which hostility and hatred seem to prevail."

"The question that arises is dramatic," he continued, "on what foundations must we build the new historical era that is emerging from the great transformations of the twentieth century? Is it enough to rely on the technological revolution now taking place, which seems to respond only to criteria of productivity and efficiency, without reference to the individual's spiritual dimension or to any universally shared ethical values? Is it right to be content with provisional answers to the ultimate questions, and to abandon life to the impulses of instinct, to short-lived sensations or passing fads? The question will not go away: on what foundations, on what certainties should we build our lives and the life of the community to which we belong?"

The Holy Father emphasized that the 20th century tried "to build the city of man without reference to Him. It ended actually building that city against man! Christians knows that it is not possible to reject or ignore God without demeaning man."

Humanity nurtures "a new civilization marked by freedom and peace." For this, "a new generation of builders is needed" and he affirmed, "you must be those 'builders', young people."

John Paul II urged the youths: "Let yourselves be taken over by the light of Christ, and spread that light wherever you are. .. If your friendship with Christ, your knowledge of his mystery, your giving of yourselves to him, are genuine and deep, you will be 'children of the light' and you will become 'light of the world'".

"This evening the Pope, along with all of you, young people from every continent, reaffirms before the world the faith that sustains the life of the Church. Christ is the light of the nations. Precisely for this reason I say to you this evening: let the light of Christ shine in your lives! Do no wait until you are older in order to set out on the path of holiness! ... Communicate to everyone the beauty of the contact with God that gives meaning to your lives. In the quest for justice, in the promotion of peace, in your commitment to brotherhood and solidarity, let no one surpass you!"

When the vigil concluded, the Pope went to his residence in the Mother House of the Sisters of St. Joseph to spend the night.

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