Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
August 27, 2001
Pope already eager for Toronto youth day
Ambrozic looks ahead to time of 'intense witness'
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY — It's still a year away. But Pope John Paul's mind is already focused on the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto.
More than in past years, the 81-year-old pope has been publicly anticipating the World Youth Day celebration in Toronto next July.
At the end of the encounter in Rome in 2000, he told young people that he would see them in Toronto - showing a confidence in his ability to rise above his physical frailty that surprised many observers.
At a Sunday blessing at his summer residence Aug. 19, Pope John Paul spoke again of his determination to preside over the event.
The pope also said Toronto's cultural mix made it an ideal place for young people to understand the demands of the Gospel.
"Inhabitants of various origins, cultures and religions live in Toronto. In such a composite and complex reality, one sees immediately how necessary it is for Christians to be the 'salt of the earth' and the 'light of the world,"' he said, referring to the theme of World Youth Day 2002.
Likewise, Toronto's archbishop is looking ahead to Pope John Paul's presence.
"The Holy Father will give to (young people) and to us a deeper and more humble faith in Jesus Christ," said Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic of Toronto.
"The meeting with the Holy Father will be an intense witness for our city and our secularized country, which would like their Christians to remain politely off to one side and be as non-assertive as possible," he said.
Ambrozic made his comments in an article published Aug. 15 by the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, which ran an insert reflecting on last year's youth-day celebrations in Rome and anticipating next year's event in Toronto.
"The presence of the Holy Father is fundamentally important for the young people," Ambrozic wrote.
"He is someone who, like Peter, speaks of their faith and proclaims - for them and with them - that Jesus is Son of the living God, the one saviour of every single human being."
He predicted that the presence in Toronto of so many young people from all over the world would have an important impact on all Canadian Christians.
In his Aug. 19 talk, the pope urged young people not to resign themselves to the pursuit of "insipid amusements and passing fads" but instead to cultivate a desire for Christ.
They should "try to avoid mediocrity and conformity, which unfortunately are quite widespread in today's society," he said.
"Dear young people, you understand well that you cannot be the 'salt of the earth' and the 'light of the world' without aiming toward holiness," he said.
"The world of the third millennium needs young people strong in the faith and generous in service to their brothers and sisters. It needs young people in love with Christ and his Gospel," he said.
The pope again spoke of World Youth Day in a letter Aug. 13 to youth assembled in an annual pilgrimage at the Polish Marian shrine of Jasna Gora.
He recalled how he led World Youth Day celebrations at Jasna Gora in 1991 and said the event had left a lasting impression on all.
The pope said he was convinced that the World Youth Day gatherings will continue to help form young people's lives and bring about a world that is "more human, serene and full of peace."
And in an Aug. 18 talk to participants in an international youth pilgrimage to Assisi, the medieval Italian town that was the birthplace of St. Francis and one of his main followers, St. Clare, the pope urged youth to turn away from "the indifference and superficiality (that) can be seen in the dominant culture today."
"Dear young people, imitate Francis and Clare, and refuse to undersell your dreams," he said.
The pope urged the youth to pursue the goal of holiness. "Be holy . . . because the lack of holiness is what is making the world sad," he said.
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