Archive for the ‘youth’ Category
Secretary of Justice and Peace Council Comments on Benedict’s Message
By Mercedes De La Torre
ROME, JAN. 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- On the first day of the new year, in which the World Day of Peace was observed, Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, commented on the Pope’s message for the Day, titled “Educate Young People in Justice and Peace.”
Bishop Toso pointed out that the Holy Father trusts young people, because they show hope and are able to receive God in the midst of human history.
ZENIT spoke with the Salesian bishop, professor of social philosophy, former rector of the Pontifical Salesian University and Consultor for 20 years of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, about Benedict XVI’s message.
ZENIT: Why does Benedict XVI address young people in particular in this 45th Message for the World Day of Peace?
Bishop Toso: Benedict XVI wished to address this message in particular to young people who today live in a world of incessant transformation, in a world that sociologists describe as “liquid”: new projects are begun and are not solidified, so that youth live in a reality that changes constantly, and even those points that seem to be the most solid also seem to change.
In this context of swift changes and a lack of solid points of reference, Benedict XVI addresses young people, seeing them as a part of the human family that has great resources of hope. In fact, young people, especially in the World Youth Day that was held in Madrid, but also in other events that we have learned about in the media, are showing — also in reference to the fall of regimes and the need to erect democratic institutions — a young, fresh intuition, which helps adults to accept the fundamental values we must invest in and which can constitute the foundation of a more just and peaceful society.
ZENIT: Why does the Pope have confidence in young people as builders of peace?
Bishop Toso: Benedict XVI’s confidence in young people is based above all on two motives: the first is that young people, in face of life and the great responsibilities of the human family, believe in the possibility of a profound transformation, of the renewal of institutions, and their enthusiasm can be the engine for positive change in our societies, even becoming witnesses and leaders, enabling adults to question themselves.
The second reason is that Benedict XVI believes in the capacity of young people to intercept God, to receive Him in the midst of human history as the One who can help humanity to come out of the dark tunnel in which it finds itself. In reality, the dark tunnels that cause despair are different, disallowing even the possibility of a more just world. They are tunnels represented by the food crisis, the financial crisis, the crisis of appropriating essential resources, the ecological crisis and, above all, the anthropological, ethical crisis.
ZENIT: How can young people help to create a more fraternal society?
Bishop Toso: As the Message for the World Day of Peace acknowledges, young people not only have the task to be involved in the educational process, but they have a mission — Benedict XVI states clearly — to stimulate, to be an example to adults and to one another.
Young people especially have a youthful and genuine intuition in regard to great values and they make every effort and commit themselves enthusiastically in the small daily things as well as those that are important: respect for the environment, the fight against corruption and illegality, the implementation of justice, and dignified and respectful treatment of persons in the field of the economy, in the field of finance. With their example, they have the possibility of offering models of what could be the construction of a new society, and new human relations based on the values of fraternity, solidarity and mutual gift — values in which young people are particularly sensitive.
It is often said that today’s young people are the first generation that think that their descendants will live in worse conditions of life. However, I sincerely believe that young people of the age of globalization wish and know that they can contribute to the construction of a better, more united and solidary humanity, the humanity that Jesus Christ inaugurated with his Incarnation.
Interview on Benedict XVI’s Upcoming Trip
VIENNA, Austria, SEPT. 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Christoph Schönborn says Benedict XVI is the last of the great Second Vatican Council theologians, and that the Pope’s words are always both important and fascinating.
In view of Benedict XVI’s visit to Austria this Friday through Sunday, the archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian bishops’ conference spoke to ZENIT about the Pope, the man and the successor of Peter.
Part 2 of this interview will be published Friday.
Q: Everyone is talking about the Pope’s upcoming visit. Who is the real Benedict XVI?
Cardinal Schönborn: He is very simple. He is the successor of the Apostle Peter and therefore for us, he is the Vicar of Christ, the Lord’s representative here on earth in the visible Church.
This is at the same time incomprehensible and immense, but it is the secret of the Petrine ministry. Whoever meets with him, whatever country he is from, whatever language he speaks — all of that is important, but it is secondary. For us he is, above all, according to the faith of the Church, Peter among us, with all the depth, greatness and strength of what Jesus prophesied to Peter, of the ministry that he entrusted to him, a ministry that continues to exist beyond the historical figure of Peter.
Q: How are your meetings with the Holy Father?
Cardinal Schönborn: Very normal. He is a man I have known for 35 years, under whom I studied and with whom I have worked for many years, a man that throughout the years, I learned to know and deeply esteem and greatly admire. But April 19, 2005, in his life and in our lives, something greater happened — he was chosen as the successor of Peter. This naturally represents a new dimension, which is evident in meeting with him. He is the man, the teacher, the cardinal that I know well and have known for many years, and at the same time, he is Peter.
Q: You have known Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI for many years. What distinguishes him as a man?
Cardinal Schönborn: I could mention many things. In his memoirs he wrote in a very modest but wise way about his life. He is very restrained in manifesting personal matters. He does not talk much about his life, but its deep Christian roots are notable. You can tell that he comes from a family profoundly formed by faith, a family united in faith and love.
I had the opportunity to get to know his sister Maria well, who died unexpectedly on Nov. 2, 1991. The three siblings were very close and they must have had parents who profoundly shaped them.
Who is the Pope based on his personal history? He is a particularly gifted and intelligent theologian. I do not hesitate to say that he is the last of the great theologians of the Council generation — de Lubac, Congar, Rahner, von Balthasar. He was the youngest in a long line of theologians who influenced the Second Vatican Council and he is certainly one of the greatest because of his spiritual and theological abilities.
Q: During your meeting with Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo you discussed the details of his upcoming trip. What is the Holy Father expecting?
Cardinal Schönborn: He will let us know and I think this is good. When Benedict XVI speaks, it is necessary to pay close attention, because what he has to say is always very clear, important, incisive and very personal and fascinating. I don’t know what he will say to us. It is good to be open.
What I can say with certainty is that we will receive enough material for further reflection.
Q: What kind of Church will the Pope find? What is, in your opinion, the situation of the Church in Austria?
Cardinal Schönborn: Only Our Lord can say what the situation of the Church is for sure, because faith has him for its aim. In that sense, hearts and their relationship with God is a mystery. No statistic is able to measure this. But naturally we live in a time when religious sociology, the psychology of religion, and statistics play an important role, and therefore one studies how to pose religion to the young, to adults and to the elderly.
Since the 1950s there has been enormous change, but not only in the Church, also in society. We live in a very different society.
Let me offer an example: In our diocese we have a rural area and an urban area, the great city of Vienna and neighboring areas that belong to the Archdiocese of Vienna. Fifty years ago, these areas were farmland; today they make up a large part of the outskirts of Vienna. This is a radical change, linked to the professional, social and family lives of many people. The number of farmers has diminished greatly, and this has impacted religious practice.
I think that today the challenge, in a highly secularized society, is living Christianity, the Christian faith almost as an alternative, as a countercultural society.
A Look at the Agora Meeting
ROME, SEPT. 1, 2007 (Zenit.org) – Here is an overview of the Italian bishops’ three-year plan to give special emphasis to youth ministry, titled the Agora of Italian Youth. The plan’s program for this year is highlighted by Benedict XVI’s meeting with youth taking place today and Sunday in Loreto, Italy.
The texts, including two interviews, are provided by the Fides news agency.
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Interview with Monsignor Paolo Giulietti, head of National Service for Youth Pastoral Ministry at the Italian bishops conference.
Q: Monsignor Giulietti, with what objectives did the March 2006 session of the bishops’ standing council approve the proposal for a national path of special attention for the world of youth articulated in three years: the Agora of young Italians?
Monsignor Giulietti: The objectives were many within the framework of renewed attention on the part of the Catholic community for the world of youth. The bishops defined young people a “pastoral priority” and the “Agora dei giovani italiani” intends to concretize this statement.
Hopefully it will lead to greater educational effort on the part of the community, serious efforts to invest in human and material resources to offer young people space for more participation in Church life and new missionary impulse with the involvement of the young people themselves.
Q: The Agora at Loreto is also dedicated to the theme of creation. What is the best way to educate young people to respect creation and nature?
Monsignor Giulietti: It is important on the one hand to intensify knowledge and motivation, anchoring attention for nature to a sound Christian vision of the relationship between man and creation; on the other hand it is decisive to offer young people the proposal of realistic and practical actions in day to day living — small individual and community actions that can improve the present situation and generate hope for the future. It is important to realize that we are all responsible for creation, we must not wait for someone else to solve the problem for us.
Q: Benedict XVI has confirmed his presence at Loreto. After the World Youth Day in Cologne this is the second major event he dedicates to young people. What do they expect from the meeting with the Holy Father? In your opinion why did the Pope accept to insert the meeting in Loreto among his appointments?
Monsignor Giulietti: The Pope — as he said on June 17 in Assisi — is anxious to be with young people, dialogue with them, propose the “great yes” of the Christian faith as the answer to their longing for a truly human life. He has confidence in the new generations and entrusts them with the mission to carry the Gospel to their peers.
For us the Pope’s presence in Loreto almost puts a seal on this three-year path, to which he will make a fundamental contribution in contents and motivation. In particular, the meeting with the Holy Father will be the celebration of a year devoted to listening and will open the year devoted to proclamation in interpersonal relations.
Q: Mission is an integral part of the life of faith. It is possible in your opinion that young people today still sense the urgency to communicate the Gospel of Christ to their peers? How can we kindle in young people a desire for mission?
Monsignor Giulietti: Mission is not something to do, it is more a way of being: Communicating with word and deed the beauty, the greatness of the experience of an encounter with Christ who makes life new. It is possible to kindle missionary impulse if we help young people to view their ordinary life with new eyes and to live it in an “extraordinary” manner. Naturally it is necessary to rethink the words and ways to speak of this at work, at school, at leisure time … for witness to be effective. The problem of little missionary spirit is due too often to dis-incarnated formation and spirituality.
Q: The Church often organizes meetings and appointments but there is little real faith life in our country especially among young people. In your opinion are these great rallies helpful for the faith of young people or not?
Monsignor Giulietti: To say there is little real faith life in the country would appear to me to be a generic statement: We have many young people who live their Christian faith with consistence. Some experienced the decisive moment in their journey of faith precisely at one of these great gatherings. I do not think we can say these great events are of no use; instead we must say that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach them. If well prepared, young people who take part can benefit greatly; if left to improvisation, participation can be disappointing. The event is an opportunity, a channel, and it is up to us to use it well.”
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Interview with Monsignor Mauro Parmeggiani, prelate secretary of the Vicariate of Rome and director of the Diocesan Service of Youth Pastoral Ministry.
Q: Benedict XVI has confirmed his presence at Loreto. After the WYD in Cologne this is the second major event he dedicates to young people. What do the young people of Rome diocese expect from the meeting with the Holy Father? In your opinion why did the Pope accept to insert the Meeting in Loreto among his appointments?
Monsignor Parmeggiani: Actually since the World Youth Day in Cologne the Pope has had other meetings with young people, for example recently in Assisi and Vigevano, and — in greater numbers — in Brazil — and before that in Krakow. I am thinking of his annual meetings in Rome with the young people of his diocese on the Thursday before Palm Sunday.
Certainly the meeting in Loreto will be an important national happening for young people with the Pope. The young people of the diocese of Rome are anxious to listen to Benedict XVI, knowing that he listens to them seriously. Our young Romans have already seen how the Pope is anxious to listen to them. They realized this when he agreed to answer questions off the cuff on various issues on life in their meeting with him in 2006 and then this year when the listening was more intimate and even sacramental when Benedict XVI, like all the priests present at the Roman appointment for WYD, entered the confessional and heard the confessions of six young people.
I think that in Loreto, too, the Pope will want to listen to the young people and speak to them in the name of the One whom he represents and of this responsibility he is deeply aware. The young people are aware that the Pope knows them and he knows the world in which they live, the relativistic, secularized and de-Christianized culture in which they are submerged, their family and affective difficulties, often much greater than one would imagine.
Certainly Benedict XVI appears to be reserved and shy … but as his secretary said recently in an interview published in one of our national dailies, his shyness, rather than a mark of his character, is due to a keen awareness that the Pope represents Christ and it is to him that he must give way.
I think therefore that our young people expect the Pope to help them solve their difficulties. This will not be a meeting of superficial youth, celebrating without contents, instead it will give interesting answers for life which broaden the scope of reason to make way for Christ to enter, which propose Christ as God’s magnificent “yes” to all men and women and to all the young men and women of today.
I think the meeting will be transformed into supplication, praise and prayer to the God whom the Pope will announce. I have the impression that Benedict XVI is most selective in his choice of appointments. If he has called the young people to Loreto it is to let them know that they are not alone as they strive to live their faith and to be disciples of Christ today, that the Church for them is a “trustworthy companion” in which to pronounce their yes for life, to Christ and to neighbor, and to spur them on to be together credible witness of Love.”
Q: Mission is an integral part of the life of faith. It is possible in your opinion that young people today still sense the urgency to communicate the Gospel of Christ to their peers? How can we kindle in young people a desire for mission?
Monsignor Parmeggiani: Certainly. They may have doubts as to how to propose the Gospel, but they — perhaps more than adults — realize that as John Paul II said, faith is strengthened when it is given to others.
Through the grace of God I see every year in Rome many young members of groups, movements, parishes preparing for youth Mission at the School for Evangelization, organized by the Diocesan Youth Pastoral Service in view of our youth mission called “Jesus at the Center” now in its 4th annual edition and which will take place in Rome’s city center from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7 this year.
Actually I believe that young people, more than adults, sense the urgency of mission and they desire an extroverted faith which spreads to their friends, their environments, starting with the school, leisure places, sport, university … And it is good to see how these young people, regarded by certain over-clerical lay adults or even priests at first with some diffidence, succeed in converting even the latter to mission.
Basically the truth, a sense of life, beauty, happiness is never lacking in the heart of a young person including the young person of today. This desire — we have been told many times by John Paul II and now by Benedict XVI — has a name: Jesus Christ, his mercy, his love. Young people need love and “Deus caritas est,” God is Love!
And if we help them encounter this love by being close to them, listening, explaining the word of God, administrating of the sacraments well celebrated, if we are witnesses of charity, of life, if we are adults consistent with their decisions — even though poor sinners — and faithful to the love of Christ who came to encounter them and captivate them, then they too will feel impelled to witness, to be missionaries because love spreads, it cannot be kept for one’s self, it demands by nature to be shared with everyone, through the power of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us — as Benedict XVI writes in his message to the young people of the world in view of the next World Youth Day in Sydney — “to the ends of the earth!”
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Agora of young Italians: three years of work
It all began during the March 2006 session of the Italian bishops’ conference standing council, which approved a proposal of a national path of special attention for the world of youth articulated in three years: the Agora of young Italians. A committee was set up to support youth initiatives and Monsignor Giuseppe Betori, former secretary of the conference, was appointed president.
The objective of the Agora of young Italians is to foster the realization of this path giving new impulse to youth pastoral ministry, greater participation of the new generations in the Church’s missionary activity and involvement in the path of the Church in Italy. The value of missionary activity is the fundamental dimension of the life and action of Christians, individuals and communities.
The first pastoral year 2006-2007 was devoted to listening to the world of youth. This is the first dimension of mission; the aim is in fact to carry the Church (communities, young people, priests, pastoral workers) out of their own spaces in order to build new relations with young people on the terrain of hope, sought after and lived in the ambits of daily life, using the interpretations, analysis and proposals suggested at the 4th Church Meeting in Verona: affective relations; experience of fragility; commitment for citizenship; study/work dynamic — celebration; relations with other generations. The first year was oriented to the national meeting in Loreto, which follows on the Verona Meeting, which gave decisive impulse (motivations and contents) to what remains to be done.
The theme “As I Have Loved You,” connects the Church’s becoming encounter with young people to the mystery of God becoming an encounter for humanity in Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Truth guides our listening, revealing the presence of Christ in the midst of our young people and leading the Church to “discern what is ‘true’ present in the guise of what is ‘new.'”
The pastoral year 2007-2008, will be devoted to the interpersonal dimension of evangelization. The objective is to continue the extrovert dynamic of year one, at the level of witness in daily life and with special initiatives of mission. The central event of year two is World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney: an opportunity for young people to deepen their sense of the mission mandate for their Christian life, in an extremely stimulating cultural and social context. Physical or “virtual,” participation at the event in Sydney is therefore an important passage for those involved in the three year journey.
The theme, “You Will Be My Witnesses,” shows that mission is part of the Christian identity of individuals and communities called to narrate the joyous experience of the encounter with the risen Lord. Mission is lived not as “proselytizing, which wants to ‘capture’ young people, but as a joyous communication of the beauty of a discovery which one feels compelled to share.”
The third pastoral year 2008-2009 will be devoted to the cultural and social dimension of evangelization. The objective is to pursue the extrovert dynamic treating the questions of Christian witness (personal, but above all as a community) exercised on frontiers of major cultural and social issues. The itinerary will conclude with an event lived simultaneously in every diocese in Italy, in the squares or diocesan shrines or some of the “new shrines” of our times such as, for example, shopping malls, railway stations, cinemas, sports grounds and places of marginalization.
The theme “To the Ends of the Earth,” underlines the necessity for the Gospel to be proclaimed in the languages and cultures of young people today often very distant from those of the previous generations.
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First Lap: Loreto, Sept. 1- 2
“Loreto 2007” will be the first of three great gatherings in the three-year path of the “Agora of Young Italians.” On Sept. 1 – 2, thousands of young people from all over Italy and delegations from European and Mediterranean countries will meet at the Marian Shrine for a great festival with the participation of Benedict XVI.
The appointment in September is a key moment for year one with the theme “As I Have Loved You,” which includes the post-Verona journey and gives decisive impulse (motivation and content) to what remains to be done.
The Loreto event involves not only the organizers and participants but also the local Catholics: In the days preceding the event (Aug. 29-31) the young guests will stay with families in 32 dioceses in the regions of Marche, Umbria, Emilia Romagna and Abruzzo and take part in days of reflection and sharing, bringing the voice of the world of youth to the local Catholic communities and the civil realities.
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— Hosting days (Aug. 29-31). In the 32 dioceses of Romagna, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo the young people will meet to discuss and share their journey. The days will be characterized by consolidated dynamics (hosting families, festive events, and getting to know the local people and the territory …), as well as initiatives connected with the theme of year one of the Agora of young Italians.
— National meeting (Sept. 1-2). Saturday, Sept. 1, pilgrimage to Loreto: Groups will make their way on foot to Montorso Plain. The pilgrimage will be animated as a path of faith. Then there will be the embrace with Benedict XVI, reflection, celebration … Sunday, Sept. 2, a day of prayer and the culminating celebration of the Eucharist at the end of which the Pope will entrust the young people with the Mission Mandate.
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The voices of some 800 delegates to Loreto
About 800 young delegates representing 50 countries of Europe and the Mediterranean will join their Italian peers for the meeting with Benedict XVI in Loreto from Sept. 1 to 2.
In the Montorso Valley, which will host the event, will fly the flags of England, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lebanon, Moldavia, Holland, Austria, Switzerland. The most numerous delegations will include: 100 young people from Poland (including 50 from Krakow) 50 each from France and Spain, and 25 each from Croatia, Hungary, Greece, Russian, Portugal, Slovenia.
Although less numerous but just as enthusiastic, smaller groups of young people will be coming from Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Palestinian Territories, Israel and Turkey. Ukraine will send representatives of Latin and Greek Catholic rite and the Libyan delegation will comprise three Iraqis, two Filipinos and one Egyptian. There will be young people from Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Cyprus and Malta who will be guests of the diocese San Marino-Montefeltro. The diocese of Ancona-Osimo will be twinned with Romania, Montenegro and Krakow, and that of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia with Croatia and Albania. The diocese of Foligno with Belgium, Imola with Scotland, Teramo-Atri with Australia, which will offer hospitality on the occasion of the 23rd Word Youth Day in Sydney2008.
“The presence of foreign delegations,” the organizers explain, “is a call to share experiences and an opportunity to build relationships to last after Loreto.” And this is the spirit of the young delegates.
“For me to participate in this event,” said Dalia from Lithuania, “means celebrating, sharing with young Italians the joy of belonging to the same family of believers, expressing the youthful enthusiasm of being Christians, drawing courage to continue to be His apostles among my peers.”
Armantos from Cyprus says the same: “I will carry to the young people of Cyprus the message that there are many like us, different in color and nationality, but similar in way of life and thought, and with an extraordinary spirituality for our times.”
“In Greece,” said Maria, “as a minority, young Catholics have little occasion for sharing and expression and the ecumenical path is still long, but I hope this great event will fill everyone with the desire to be true witnesses in deed and in faith.”
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Photo Exhibition — John Paul II and Benedict XVI
The inauguration of the Photograph Exhibition “John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Young People, Creation, Marian devotion” at the Church of Santo Stefano at Carisolo, marked the beginning of the “5th Youth Pilgrimage to the Cross of Adamello.” In view of “Loreto 2007,” in memory of John Paul II, the young people made a pilgrimage to the spot where, during the Jubilee Year 2000, a cross was planted dedicated to the late Holy Father, where young people go on regular pilgrimages.
“The initiative,” the organizers explained, “calls attention to the permanent educational and spiritual value of the mountains and looks towards the appointments in Loreto (September 2007) and Sydney (July 2008), where Pope Benedict XVI expects to see the boys and girls of Italy, Europe, the world.”
This year the project promoted in collaboration with the autonomous province of Trent, assumes special importance with the participation of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz who will meet young Agora participants and young people of the region of Trent. The pilgrimage represents the highlight of three days of formation, which completes training for volunteer group leaders who will offer their services at Loreto. Reflection will focus in the organization of major events and the importance of voluntary work on these occasions, but also on Creation and the figure of John Paul II.
On July 5, the exhibition was opened by Archbishop Giuseppe Betori, the Italian bishops’ conference secretary-general, Archbishop Luigi Bressan of Trent, Dr. Vincenzo Grienti of the bishops’ conference national office for communications, Professor Tiziano Salvaterra, assessor for education and youth policies of the autonomous province of Trent, and Proffesor Giovanni Morello, who organized the exhibition.
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The meeting in Loreto anticipates that of World Youth Day in Sydney Australia 2008. “And now, as the living presence of the risen Christ in our midst nourishes our faith and hope,” Benedict XVI said before leading the recitation of the Angelus with one million young people at Marienfeld in Cologne on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2005, “I am pleased to announce that the next World Youth Day will take place in Sydney, Australia, in 2008. We entrust to the maternal guidance of Mary Most Holy, the future course of the young people of the whole world. Let us now recite the Angelus.”
Sydney will host from July 15 – 20, 2008, thousands of young people from all over the world including young Italians for whom Sidney 2008 will be the second lap of the pastoral journey of the Youth Agora.
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The pastoral year 2008-2009 is dedicated to the cultural and social dimension of evangelization and the theme “To the Ends of the Earth” stresses the necessity to proclaim the Gospel in the languages and cultures of the young people of today, often very distant from those of previous generations.
The objective is to continue the extrovert dynamism proposed in the first two years, treating especially the question of Christian witness (personal, but above all community) exercised on the frontiers of great cultural and social issues.
The itinerary of the Agora will conclude with an event lived simultaneously in every Italian diocese in the squares or diocesan shrines or some “new shrine” of our times such as, for example, shopping malls, railway stations, cinemas, sports grounds and places of marginalization.
monsignor, giulieti, head, national, service, pastoral
On Divorce, Youth, Missions and Beauty
VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the second part of a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI’s July 24 question-and-answer session with priests from the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso, Italy, during the Pope’s vacation.
Part 1 was published Thursday; Part 3 will be published Sunday.
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MEETING OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI WITH THE CLERGY OF THE DIOCESES OF BELLUNO-FELTRE AND TREVISO
Church of St Justin Martyr, Auronzo di Cadore
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
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I am Fr Samuele. We have accepted your invitation to pray, care for people and preach. We are taking you seriously by caring for you yourself; so, to express our affection, we have brought you several bottles of wholesome wine from our region, which we will make sure that you receive through our Bishop. So now for my question. We are seeing an enormous increase in situations of divorced people who remarry, live together and ask priests to help them with their spiritual life. These people often come to us with a heartfelt plea for access to the sacraments. These realities need to be faced and the sufferings they cause must be shared. Holy Father, may I ask you what are the human, spiritual and pastoral approaches with which one can combine compassion and truth? Thank you.
Benedict XVI: Yes, this is indeed a painful problem and there is certainly no simple solution to resolve it. This problem makes us all suffer because we all have people close to us who are in this situation. We know it causes them sorrow and pain because they long to be in full communion with the Church. The previous bond of matrimony reduces their participation in the life of the Church. What can be done? I would say: as far as possible, we would naturally put prevention first. Hence, preparation for marriage becomes ever more fundamental and necessary. Canon Law presupposes that man as such, even without much education, intends to contract a marriage in harmony with human nature, as mentioned in the first chapters of Genesis. He is a human being, his nature is human and consequently he knows what marriage is. He intends to behave as human nature dictates to him. Canon Law starts from this presupposition. It is something compulsory: man is man, nature is what it is and tells him this. Today, however, this axiom, which holds that man prompted by his nature will make one faithful marriage, has been transformed into a somewhat different axiom. “Volunt contrahere matrimonium sicut ceteri homines”. It is no longer nature alone that speaks, but the “ceteri homines”: what everyone does. And what everyone does today is not simply to enter into natural marriage, in accordance with the Creator, in accordance with creation. What the “ceteri homines” do is to marry with the idea that one day their marriage might fail and that they will then be able to move on to another one, to a third or even a fourth marriage. This model of what “everyone does” thus becomes one that is contrary to what nature says. In this way, it becomes normal to marry, divorce and remarry, and no one thinks this is something contrary to human nature, or in any case those who do are few and far between. Therefore, to help people achieve a real marriage, not only in the sense of the Church but also of the Creator, we must revive their capacity for listening to nature. Let us return to the first query, the first question: rediscovering within what everyone does, what nature itself tells us, which is so different from what this modern custom dictates. Indeed, it invites us to marry for life, with lifelong fidelity including the suffering that comes from growing together in love. Thus, these preparatory courses for marriage must be a rectification of the voice of nature, of the Creator, within us, a rediscovery, beyond what all the “ceteri homines” do, of what our own being intimately tells us. In this situation, therefore, distinguishing between what everyone else does and what our being tells us, these preparatory courses for marriage must be a journey of rediscovery. They must help us learn anew what our being tells us. They must help couples reach the true decision of marriage in accordance with the Creator and the Redeemer. Hence, these preparatory courses are of great importance in order to “learn oneself”, to learn the true intention for marriage. But preparation is not enough; the great crises come later. Consequently, ongoing guidance, at least in the first 10 years, is of the utmost importance. In the parish, therefore, it is not only necessary to provide preparatory courses but also communion in the journey that follows, guidance and mutual help. May priests, but not on their own, and families, which have already undergone such experiences and are familiar with such suffering and temptations, be available in moments of crisis. The presence of a network of families that help one another is important and different movements can make a considerable contribution. The first part of my answer provides for prevention, not only in the sense of preparation but also of guidance and for the presence of a network of families to assist in this contemporary situation where everything goes against faithfulness for life. It is necessary to help people find this faithfulness and learn it, even in the midst of suffering. However, in the case of failure, in other words, when the spouses are incapable of adhering to their original intention, there is always the question of whether it was a real decision in the sense of the sacrament. As a result, one possibility is the process for the declaration of nullity. If their marriage were authentic, which would prevent them from remarrying, the Church’s permanent presence would help these people to bear the additional suffering. In the first case, we have the suffering that goes with overcoming this crisis and learning a hard-fought for and mature fidelity. In the second case, we have the suffering of being in a new bond which is not sacramental, hence, does not permit full communion in the sacraments of the Church. Here it would be necessary to teach and to learn how to live with this suffering. We return to this point, to the first question of the other diocese. In our generation, in our culture, we have to rediscover the value of suffering in general, and we have to learn that suffering can be a very positive reality which helps us to mature, to become more ourselves, and to be closer to the Lord who suffered for us and suffers with us. Even in the latter situation, therefore, the presence of the priest, families, movements, personal and communitarian communion in these situations, the helpful love of one’s neighbour, a very specific love, is of the greatest importance. And I think that only this love, felt by the Church and expressed in the solidarity of many, can help these people recognize that they are loved by Christ and are members of the Church despite their difficult situation. Thus, it can help them to live the faith.
My name is Fr Saverio, so of course my question concerns the missions. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Encyclical “Fidei Donum.” Many priests in our Diocese, myself included, have accepted the Pope’s invitation; they, we, have lived and are living the experience of the mission ad gentes. There can be no doubt that this is an extraordinary experience which in my modest opinion could be shared by a great number of priests with a view to exchanges between Sister Churches. Since the instruction in the Encyclical is still timely today, given the dwindling number of priests in our countries, how and with what attitude should it be accepted and lived both by the priests who are sent out and by the whole diocese? Thank you.
Pope Benedict XVI: Thank you. I would first like to thank all these fidei donum priests and the dioceses. As I have already mentioned, I have received a great number of ad limina visits from Bishops of Asia, Africa and Latin America and they all tell me: “We are badly in need of fidei donum priests and we are deeply grateful for the work they do. They make present, often in extremely difficult situations, the catholicity of the Church and they make visible the great universal communion which we form, as well as the love for our distant neighbour who becomes close in the situation of the fidei donum priest”. In the past 50 years I have almost tangibly felt and seen this great gift, truly given, in my conversations with priests who say to us: “Do not think that we Africans are now quite self-sufficient; we are still in need of the visibility of the great communion of the universal Church”. I would say that we all need to be visible as Catholics and we need to love the neighbour who comes from afar and thus finds his neighbour. Today, the situation has changed in the sense that we in Europe also receive priests from Africa, Latin America and even from other parts of Europe. This enables us to perceive the beauty of this exchange of gifts, this gift of one to the other, because we all need one another: it is precisely in this way that the Body of Christ grows. To sum up, I would like to say that this gift was and is a great gift, perceived in the Church as such: in so many situations that I cannot describe here, which involve social problems, problems of development, problems of the proclamation of the faith, problems of loneliness, the need for the presence of others, these priests are a gift in which the dioceses and particular Churches recognize the presence of Christ who gives himself for us. At the same time, they recognize that Eucharistic Communion is not only a supranatural communion but becomes concrete communion in this gift of self of diocesan priests who make themselves available to other dioceses, and that the network of particular Churches thus truly becomes a network of love. Thanks to all those who have made this gift. I can only encourage Bishops and priests to continue making this gift. I know that today, with the shortage of vocations, it is becoming more and more difficult in Europe to make this gift; but we already have the experience that other continents in turn, such as especially India and Africa, also give us priests. Reciprocity continues to be of paramount importance. Precisely the experience that we are the Church sent out into the world which everyone knows and loves, is very necessary and also constitutes the power of proclamation. Thus, people can see that the mustard seed bears fruit and ceaselessly, time and again, becomes a great tree in which the birds of the air find repose. Thank you and be strong.
Fr Alberto: Holy Father, young people are our future and our hope: but they sometimes see life as a difficulty rather than an opportunity; not as a gift for themselves and for others but as something to be consumed on the spot; not as a future to be built but as aimless wandering. The contemporary mindset demands that young people be happy and perfect all of the time. The result is that every tiny failure and the least difficulty are no longer seen as causes for growth but as a defeat. All this often leads to irreversible acts such as suicide, which wound the hearts of those who love them and of society as a whole. What can you tell us educators who feel all too often that our hands are tied and that we have no answers? Thank you.
Benedict XVI: I think you have just given us a precise description of a life in which God does not figure. At first sight, it seems as if we do not need God or indeed, that without God we would be freer and the world would be grander. But after a certain time, we see in our young people what happens when God disappears. As Nietzsche said: “The great light has been extinguished, the sun has been put out”. Life is then a chance event. It becomes a thing that I must seek to do the best I can with and use life as though it were a thing that serves my own immediate, tangible and achievable happiness. But the big problem is that were God not to exist and were he not also the Creator of my life, life would actually be a mere cog in evolution, nothing more; it would have no meaning in itself. Instead, I must seek to give meaning to this component of being. Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God. This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance. This is what I wanted to say in my lecture at Regensburg: that reason should be more open, that it should indeed perceive these facts but also realize that they are not enough to explain all of reality. They are insufficient. Our reason is broader and can also see that our reason is not basically something irrational, a product of irrationality, but that reason, creative reason, precedes everything and we are truly the reflection of creative reason. We were thought of and desired; thus, there is an idea that preceded me, a feeling that preceded me, that I must discover, that I must follow, because it will at last give meaning to my life. This seems to me to be the first point: to discover that my being is truly reasonable, it was thought of, it has meaning. And my important mission is to discover this meaning, to live it and thereby contribute a new element to the great cosmic harmony conceived of by the Creator. If this is true, then difficulties also become moments of growth, of the process and progress of my very being, which has meaning from conception until the very last moment of life. We can get to know this reality of meaning that precedes all of us, we can also rediscover the meaning of pain and suffering; there is of course one form of suffering that we must avoid and must distance from the world: all the pointless suffering caused by dictatorships and erroneous systems, by hatred and by violence. However, in suffering there is also a profound meaning, and only if we can give meaning to pain and suffering can our life mature. I would say, above all, that there can be no love without suffering, because love always implies renouncement of myself, letting myself go and accepting the other in his otherness; it implies a gift of myself and therefore, emerging from myself. All this is pain and suffering, but precisely in this suffering caused by the losing of myself for the sake of the other, for the loved one and hence, for God, I become great and my life finds love, and in love finds its meaning. The inseparability of love and suffering, of love and God, are elements that must enter into the modern conscience to help us live. In this regard, I would say that it is important to help the young discover God, to help them discover the true love that precisely in renunciation becomes great and so also enables them to discover the inner benefit of suffering, which makes me freer and greater. Of course, to help young people find these elements, companionship and guidance are always essential, whether through the parish, Catholic Action or a Movement. It is only in the company of others that we can also reveal this great dimension of our being to the new generations.
I am Fr Francesco. Holy Father, one sentence you wrote in your book made a deep impression on me: “[But] what did Jesus actually bring if not world peace, universal prosperity and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: “God. He has brought God'” (Jesus of Nazareth, English edition, p. 44); I find the clarity and truth of this citation disarming. This is my question: there is talk about the new evangelization, the new proclamation of the Gospel — this was also the main theme of the Synod of our Diocese, Belluno-Feltre — but what should we do so that this God, the one treasure brought by Jesus and who all too often appears hazy to many, shines forth anew in our homes and becomes the water that quenches even the thirst of the many who seem no longer to be thirsting? Thank you.
Benedict XVI: Thank you. Yours is a fundamental question. The fundamental question of our pastoral work is how to bring God to the world, to our contemporaries. Of course, bringing God is a multi-dimensional task: already in Jesus’ preaching, in his life and his death we see how this One develops in so many dimensions. I think that we should always be mindful of two things: on the one hand, the Christian proclamation. Christianity is not a highly complicated collection of so many dogmas that it is impossible for anyone to know them all; it is not something exclusively for academicians who can study these things, but it is something simple: God exists and God is close in Jesus Christ. Thus, to sum up, Jesus Christ himself said that the Kingdom of God had arrived. Basically, what we preach is one, simple thing. All the dimensions subsequently revealed are dimensions of this one thing and all people do not have to know everything but must certainly enter into the depths and into the essential. In this way, the different dimensions also unfold with ever increasing joy. But in practice what should be done? I think, speaking of pastoral work today, that we have already touched on the essential points. But to continue in this direction, bringing God implies above all, on the one hand, love, and on the other, hope and faith. Thus, the dimension of life lived, bearing the best witness for Christ, the best proclamation, is always the life of true Christians. If we see that families nourished by faith live in joy, that they also experience suffering in profound and fundamental joy, that they help others, loving God and their neighbour, in my opinion this is the most beautiful proclamation today. For me too, the most comforting proclamation is always that of seeing Catholic families or personalities who are penetrated by faith: the presence of God truly shines out in them and they bring the “living water” that you mentioned. The fundamental proclamation is, therefore, precisely that of the actual life of Christians. Of course, there is also the proclamation of the Word. We must spare no effort to ensure that the Word is listened to and known. Today, there are numerous schools of the Word and of the conversation with God in Sacred Scripture, a conversation which necessarily also becomes prayer, because the purely theoretical study of Sacred Scripture is a form of listening that is merely intellectual and would not be a real or satisfactory encounter with the Word of God. If it is true that in Scripture and in the Word of God it is the Living Lord God who speaks to us, who elicits our response and our prayers, then schools of Scripture must also be schools of prayer, of dialogue with God, of drawing intimately close to God: consequently, the whole proclamation. Then, of course, I would say the sacraments. All the Saints also always come with God. It is important — Sacred Scripture tell us from the very outset — that God never comes by himself but comes accompanied and surrounded by the Angels and Saints. In the great stained glass window in St Peter’s which portrays the Holy Spirit, what I like so much is the fact that God is surrounded by a throng of Angels and living beings who are an expression, an emanation, so to speak, of God’s love. And with God, with Christ, with the man who is God and with God who is man, Our Lady arrives. This is very important. God, the Lord, has a Mother and in his Mother we truly recognize God’s motherly goodness. Our Lady, Mother of God, is the Help of Christians, she is our permanent comfort, our great help. I see this too in the dialogue with the Bishops of the world, of Africa and lately also of Latin America; I see that love for Our Lady is the driving force of catholicity. In Our Lady we recognize all God’s tenderness, so, fostering and living out Our Lady’s, Mary’s, joyful love is a very great gift of catholicity. Then there are the Saints. Every place has its own Saint. This is good because in this way we see the range of colours of God’s one light and of his love which comes close to us. It means discovering the Saints in their beauty, in their drawing close to me in the Word, so that in a specific Saint I may find expressed precisely for me the inexhaustible Word of God, and then all the aspects of parochial life, even the human ones. We must not always be in the clouds, in the loftiest clouds of Mystery. We must have our feet firmly planted on the ground and together live the joy of being a great family: the great little family of the parish; the great family of the diocese, the great family of the universal Church. In Rome I can see all this, I can see how people from every part of the world who do not know one another are actually acquainted because they all belong to the family of God. They are close to one another because they all possess the love of the Lord, the love of Our Lady, the love of the Saints, Apostolic Succession and the Successor of Peter and the Bishops. I would say that this joy of catholicity with its many different hues is also the joy of beauty. We have here the beauty of a beautiful organ; the beauty of a very beautiful church, the beauty that has developed in the Church. I think this is a marvellous testimony of God’s presence and of the truth of God. Truth is expressed in beauty, and we must be grateful for this beauty and seek to do our utmost to ensure that it is ever present, that it develops and continues to grow. In this way, I believe that God will be very concretely in our midst.
Interview With Father Thomas Rosica
TORONTO, JULY 28, 2007 (Zenit.org).- World Youth Day 2002 woke up the Church in Canada, said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, national director of the event held in Toronto five years ago.
Speaking with ZENIT to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 17th World Youth Day, Father Rosica commented about what effects the event brought to Canada and the Church.
Father Rosica is the director of the Toronto-based Salt and Light Media Foundation and Catholic Television Network, which he founded in 2003.
Q: World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto took place five years ago. What do you think has been the most profound effect the event had on the Church in Canada?
Father Rosica: World Youth Day 2002 was a tremendous catalyst allowing many great things to happen in and to Canada.
We may choose to speak of World Youth Day as something in the past — that brightened the shadows, monotony and fatigue of our lives at one shining moment in history in 2002.
Against a world background of terror and fear, economic collapse and ecclesial scandals, World Youth Day presented an alternative vision of compelling beauty.
World Youth Day 2002 woke up the country and the Church in Canada.
The Catholic Church was alive and young during those glorious days of July 2002, and the Church continues to be alive and young today.
World Youth Day 2002 also shifted the plates of the earth in Canada in the area of media relations. Two sections of the Holy Father’s talks remain engraved on my memory.
First, at the arrival ceremony in Toronto for John Paul II at the beginning of World Youth Day 2002, the Holy Father spoke these prophetic words to government officials and the people of Canada at Pearson International Airport on July 23, 2002:
“Canadians are heirs to an extraordinarily rich humanism, enriched even more by the blend of many different cultural elements. …
“In a world of great social and ethical strains, and confusion about the very purpose of life, Canadians have an incomparable treasure to contribute — on condition that they preserve what is deep and good and valid in their own heritage.”
Then on Saturday evening, July 27, 2002, on the tarmac of a former military air base in Toronto, Downsview Park, John Paul II spoke these thought-provoking words to the crowd of more than 600,000 young people gathered at the great vigil of World Youth Day 2002:
“The question that arises is dramatic: On what foundations must we build the new historical era that is emerging from the great transformations of the 20th 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?”
And what happened in our country over the past five years? One of the most serious crises of our times is the crisis of marriage and family life.
Canadians have to reflect carefully on the social consequences involved in the redefinition of marriage, examining all that is entailed if society no longer gives a privileged place and fundamental value to the lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage.
As the keystone of society, the family is the most favorable environment in which to welcome children.
I will never forget the sight of John Paul II descending the stairs of the plane that brought him to Toronto, and ascending the stairs of the plane that would take him to Guatemala at the end of our World Youth Day in Toronto.
John Paul II taught us in the twilight of his pontificate that everyone must suffer, even the Vicar of Christ. Rather than hide his infirmities, as most public figures do, he let the whole world see what he went through.
In a youth-obsessed culture in which people are constantly urged to fight or deny the ravages of time, age, disease, he reminded us that aging and suffering are a natural part of being human.
Where the old and infirm are so easily put in nursing homes and often forgotten, the Pope was a timely and powerful reminder that our parents and grandparents, the sick, the handicapped and the dying have great value.
Our Canadian reality is truly based on a transcendent vision of life based on Christian revelation that has made us a free, democratic and caring society, recognized throughout the world as a champion of human rights and human dignity.
We will only continue to offer this treasure to humanity and history if we preserve what is deep and good and valid in our own heritage.
We must uphold the dignity of all human life, from its earliest moments to its final moments of natural death. And we must celebrate the dignity and sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman, as well as fostering and loving family life.
Q: You attribute the founding of Salt and Light Television to World Youth Day. Can you explain more about your network and how it was the direct result of that event?
Father Rosica: Canada needed this television medium more than we know.
Starting up a television network anywhere is fraught with challenges, and in Canada this is compounded by the country’s size, distances, languages and cultures.
But God was with us from the beginning of this great adventure, just as he was with us through the preparation and execution of World Youth Day 2002.
I learned most of what I am doing here at Salt and Light Television from John Paul II. He was a brilliant teacher and model of goodness and humanity, a wise communicator and a true “Pontifex Massmediaticus.”
Salt and Light Television was born on the wings of World Youth Day 2002, drawn from Matthew 5:13-14 — “You Are the Salt of the Earth and Light of the World” was the theme for World Youth Day 2002.
The Catholic television project is clearly a tribute to and a legacy of John Paul II, and World Youth Day 2002 was the wind beneath our wings.
There could be no better way to carry on the legacy of World Youth Day 2002 than through Canada’s first national Catholic television network that bears the imprint and tradition of World Youth Days.
The television network came about through the generosity of an Italian Canadian family that owns the largest private print and media company in the country, St. Joseph Media.
Its founder, Gaetano Gagliano, now 90 years old, was a disciple and friend of Blessed Giacomo Alberione. Gagliano views Salt and Light as the crown of his long career in the print, media and communications industry.
The Gaglianos provided the seed money of $15 million to get this project off the ground four years ago.
Initially available only in the Toronto area, the network is now carried by cable and satellite television services that cover Canada coast to coast.
Its programs — in English, French, some Italian and, most recently, shows in Mandarin and Cantonese — are available to nearly a half-million Canadian homes, primarily as a low-cost pay-cable channel.
A limited amount of Salt and Light programming also can be seen in the United States. U.S. residents can sample Salt and Light programming on our Web site, which offers promotional clips of all current shows as well as streaming video.
Salt and Light documentaries appear periodically on the Eternal Word Television Network. Salt and Light also has entered a programming exchange with Boston Catholic Television Network, which is available in various parts of the East Coast of the United States.
Recently has been announced the launch of H2O News, a new multilingual television service developed in cooperation with several Vatican agencies.
We are thrilled to have been invited by H20 to provide the English component of H2O, as well as assisting with the French and eventually the Chinese services. This will certainly help us to enhance our news dimension and thrust us on a global stage.
Q: Staffed by young people, most of whom participated in some way in World Youth Day, what do you think is the unique contribution Salt and Light offers television viewers?
Father Rosica: First and foremost one of the great contributions of Salt and Light Catholic Television Network is the unique manner in which young Catholics have assumed leadership roles in our evangelization efforts.
One clearly gets the impression that the Church is “alive and young” at Salt and Light.
Second is our commitment to offer Canadian society a message of hope, and an invitation to draw closer to Christ and the Church through our programming.
In many ways, Canada is a new mission territory, and the urgent pastoral needs for education in faith and spirituality, history and Church teachings are so vast and can never be fulfilled by one group or agency.
Everything we do at the Salt and Light Catholic Television Network revolves around the five pillars of the Salt and Light Television network: 1) prayer, devotion and meditation; 2) multilingual Catholic liturgy, Vatican events and ceremonies; 3) learning and faith development for all ages; 4) stories of Catholic action and social justice throughout Canada and around the globe; 5) stories of our Catholic communities, information and context.
Salt and Light Television network also works closely with the major television networks in Canada to assist in the background material and education about Catholic matters.
This was clearly evident in 2005 during the transition in the papacy. These efforts have built badly needed bridges with the secular media, and continue the legacy of World Youth Day 2002.
Q: Other than the network, have you seen tangible examples of young lives changed by World Youth Day? And what about the not-so-young you encounter?
Father Rosica: One of the most significant aspects and fruits of World Youth Days is that young people have rediscovered their bishops and priests, and bishops and priests have rediscovered their young people.
I recall John Paul II stating on several occasions that World Youth Days exists not only for the conversion of young people and the societies in which they live, but also for the conversion of their bishops and priests. There is much truth in these words.
Canada was particularly blessed to have many bishops who truly believe in World Youth Day as a powerful instrument of evangelization.
Through World Youth Days, John Paul II unleashed something totally new and unthinkable some 25 years ago!
We have felt the effects of World Youth Day 2002 throughout the vast Canadian landscape over the past five years, from the dynamic Youth Ministry Program in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, to the powerful Scriptural “Lectio Divina” evenings with the young people of Edmonton, Alberta.
Over these past five years the Cathedral of Kingston, Ontario, came alive with catechesis sessions for young people and many older ones as well!
There have been revitalized youth ministry programs in the Ontario Dioceses of St. Catharines, London, Toronto, and Cornwall.
We cannot help but be grateful to God, giving thanks for the renewed energies among the young people of the Archdiocese of Montreal, Quebec.
In Atlantic Canada there has been a veritable explosion of youth activities in Halifax, and World Youth Day inspired the birth of the John Paul II Media Center in Halifax, a creative media project led by young people.
In Quebec City, birthplace of the Church in North America, the seeds of and winds of World Youth Day 2002 have empowered young people and the Quebec Church to prepare for the Eucharistic Congress in June 2008.
The energy of World Youth Day has swept across Canada through powerful, Gospel-rooted movements like Catholic Christian Outreach, now present on many university campuses of the country. National Evangelization Teams Ministries continues to flourish with the World Youth Day 2002 spirit.
The phenomenon of World Youth Day has become a powerful seedbed for vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, marriage and lay ecclesial ministries.
Whether it is because those who have already sensed a call choose to attend World Youth Day out of their strong faith life, or because World Youth Day awakens young adults for the first time to the special call of God, World Youth Day can be a moment of life-changing discernment.
On June 29, as I sat in St. Peter’s Basilica and watched the scene of Benedict XVI placing the pallium on the shoulders of five new Canadian archbishops, I quietly thanked God that each of these pastors and leaders had already taken to heart the gift of World Youth Day 2002 and have built so well on its foundation.
And many of the episcopal appointments in Canada over the past five years have manifested that being a bishop today in the Church means that one has a special mission to young people.
Q: Canada once had a thriving Catholic culture. Have you seen a return to the participation in the Church, sacraments, etc., in the years following World Youth Day?
Father Rosica: World Youth Days offer no panacea or quick fix to the problems and challenges of our times. Rather, they offer a new framework and new lenses through which we look at the Church and the world, and build our future.
One thing was clear after World Youth Day 2002: We realized that we have much work to do in reaching out to young adults across this vast land.
July 2002 was for us not an end or accomplishment of some feat; it was rather beginning of a new adventure of faith and hope for the entire Canadian Church.
At our World Youth Day 2002 in Canada, John Paul II issued a clarion call to commitment to the entire Church in Canada.
To his young friends he said: “Many and enticing are the voices that call out to you from all sides: many of these voices speak to you of a joy that can be had with money, success, and power. Mostly they propose a joy that comes with the superficial and fleeting pleasure of the senses.”
The alternative call was Jesus’ cry: “He calls you to be the salt and light of the world, to live in justice, to become instruments of love and peace.” The choice was stark, self-denying, life-defining, and irrevocable.
It was between, “good and evil, between light and darkness, between life and death.”
There were no shortcuts or compromises for John Paul II, only clarity. And that is what young people are seeking today, not quick answers but Gospel clarity.
It is incumbent on the Church to offer solid opportunities for youth and young adult ministry that contain solid content, vision, community and hope.
Many people have commented to me that World Youth Day 2002 taught them to wear biblical lenses in order to understand what July 2002 was all about for the Church in Canada.
On a very personal note, as I remember the great event of World Youth Day 2002, and allow it to take on its true dimensions — one image seems to dominate: that of the rather violent and ferocious wind and storm that rocked Downsview Park on Sunday morning, July 28, 2002.
It was for me and for many the wind of Pentecost that we read about in the New Testament.
And yet, in the midst of the howling wind and violent storm, the nations of the earth — at least 172 of them huddled together in that field — understood one another as they gathered around the successor of Peter on that July morning five years ago.
This was the wind that had led the World Youth Day Cross from sea to sea to sea, across Canada “a mari usque ad mare.” That summer and that particular morning of July 28, 2002, I believe that the Church in Canada was born again on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Canada is often described on the international scene as being one of the most politically correct or tolerant societies in the world.
Some take great pride in these words applied to our country. Others, including myself, do not necessarily see this description as something terribly positive.
There is nothing politically correct about preaching and living the Gospel, about being salt and light in a culture that has lost the flavor of the Gospel and tried to extinguish the light of Christ.
In fact, the Gospel message is at times completely incorrect in the eyes and ways of the world! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed with boldness and with courage — and that is one of the great lessons of World Youth Day 2002.
A boldness that does not overpower, that is not rude, that does not bully, that is never disrespectful, that never shows off or flaunts gifts that one has received — but where the Spirit has been so lavishly poured out upon us as individuals and as a faith community, the Church has an obligation to announce and to proclaim Jesus Christ boldly, unapologetically and unabashedly — with great joy.
Earlier this month while visiting Rome, I spent several long moments in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, at the grave of John Paul II, the great dreamer and father of World Youth Days.
Every day I ask the Servant of God Pope John Paul II to pray for us and intercede for us, and especially for the young people who found in him a father, a grandfather, a teacher and a demanding friend who loved them.
May those same young people find in the Church in Canada a rock, a shelter, a harbor, a home, and a possible lifetime of service in the Church today — a Church that is “alive and young,” as Benedict XVI said at the inauguration of his Petrine Ministry in 2005.