VATICAN, Aug. 18 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II received several groups of World Youth
Day pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandalfo on Friday, August 18.
The Pontiff-- who is scheduled to join with the main group of World Youth Day pilgrims on Saturday
at Tor Vergata-- received groups of youngsters from Egypt, Cuba, and Yugoslavia.
The Egyptian pilgrims were Coptic Catholics, who came to Rome under the guidance of Patriarch
Stephanos II Ghattas of Alexandria. On August 14, the Coptic pilgrims had celebrated their own
liturgy in the basilica of St. Mary Major, and the Pope saluted them for their "fidelity to a beautiful
heritage passed on through tradition." He urged the Egyptian Christians to promote understanding with
the faithful of other religions in their land.
The Holy Father also recognized a group of Serbian Orthodox pilgrims, from the Eparchy of
Sabac-Valjevo, who came to Rome with their Bishop Laurentije Trifunovic. The Pope sent his
greetings to the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, and acknowledged that the Serbian people have
been "sorely tested in recent years." Again he called upon his visitors to remain faithful to their
Christian heritage, while promoting understanding across religious lines.
Finally the Pope, speaking in Spanish, welcomed his guests from Cuba, who were led by Cardinal
Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana. He recalled his historic visit to Cuba in January 1998, and said that
the young Catholics of that land should take the lead in "building up a civilization of love in all areas:
families, ecclesial communities, and workplaces."