28-July-2002 -- Vatican Information Service |

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VATICAN CITY JUL 28, 2002 (VIS) - This morning at 9:30 a.m. local time, John Paul II presided at the Eucharistic Concelebration which concluded World Youth Day in Downsview Park. Four hundred bishops and 1,000 priests concelebrated with the Pope. Eight hundred thousand young people attended the Mass, celebrated in French, English, Inuktikut and in the languages of the diverse participants.

The Pope's homily was dedicated to the theme of the 17th World Youth Day: 'You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.'

The Pope quoted the gospel passage in which Jesus' disciples, close to the Lake of Galilea, were listening to his "voice, gentle and urgent ... as a call to choose between life and death, between truth and falsehood."

"Today," he continued, "he is speaking the same words to you, the young people ... His words tell you who you are as Christians. They tell you what you must do to remain in his love. ... Jesus offers one thing, and the 'spirit of the world' offers another. The 'spirit of the world' offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness. There is perhaps no darkness deeper than the darkness that enters young people's soul when false prophets extinguish in them the light of faith and hope and love. The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility. The Lord is calling you to choose between these two voices."

"The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. ... It needs you - to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt seasons and improves the flavor of food. ... You have to change and improve the 'taste' of human history. ... You have to humanize the world we live in."

"If you love Jesus, love the Church! Do not be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of her members. The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame. But think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good!"

"You are young, the Pope is old and a bit tired," he said, as he was interrupted by participants who were exclaiming: "It's not true, the Pope is young." John Paul II then responded, improvising: "To be 82 or 83 is not the same as 22 or 23." Returning to his homily, he emphasized: "But he still fully identifies with your hopes and aspirations. Although I have lived through much darkness, under harsh totalitarian regimes, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of young."

When the Mass was over, John Paul II prayed the Angelus with the young people. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope entrusted the fruits of World Youth Day to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, so that "in time, with her help, they may flourish."

"I wish formally to announce that the next World Youth Day will take place in 2005 in Cologne, Germany. In the great Cathedral in Cologne the relics of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East who followed the star which led them to Christ, are honored. As pilgrims, your spiritual journey to Cologne starts today."

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