World Youth Day 2011


Pope's Thank You Note to Madrid Cardinal
Says He Holds WYD Organizers in His Heart

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2011 Here is a translation of an Aug. 22 thank you note, which Benedict XVI sent to Madrid's Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, after World Youth Day was held in his city. The Spanish Episcopal Conference published the letter today.

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To Venerable Brother

Antonio María Cardinal Rouco Varela

Metropolitan Archbishop of Madrid

President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference

On returning to Rome after the unforgettable days of my pastoral visit to Madrid for the 26th World Youth Day, I would like to express to Your Eminence my most cordial gratitude for your innumerable demonstrations of hospitality and the continuous care that you gave me during my recent stay in Spain.

I beg Your Eminence to transmit my heartfelt gratitude also to the suffragan bishops, to the auxiliary bishops, to the clergy, to the religious communities and the other collaborators in that beloved particular Church of Madrid, as well as to the national, autonomous and municipal authorities, to the security forces, to the health personnel and to the countless volunteers who worked so energetically in this great event for youth.

Likewise, be so kind as to express to the members of the Spanish Episcopal Conference my affection for their determined support of this important ecclesial event, and manifest likewise my closeness to the presbyters and representatives of consecrated life for their generous involvement in this significant meeting. May each and every one of those who made possible this celebration of faith that we experienced together -- cooperating in it in different ways and giving the best of themselves in its preparation, development and successful completion -- know that they are joyfully in my heart.

I gladly correspond to the great deference I experienced throughout my apostolic journey, imploring God that He enrich all the children of those noble lands with an abundance of gifts of love and mercy, that will serve particularly the new generations to remain rooted and built up in Christ, firm in the faith and ready to proclaim to all the joy implied in living the Gospel fully, making it known with courage to those around us.

With these sentiments, and while entrusting Your Eminence, the bishops, priests, seminarians, religious and faithful of Madrid and the whole of Spain to the intercession of Our Lady of Almudena, I impart to you from my heart a special Apostolic Blessing, pledge of abundant divine gifts.

Benedict XVI


On World Youth Day 2011
 "The Cross of Christ Gives Much More Than It Demands"
 CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 24, 2011 - Here is a translation of the Italian-language catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held at Castel Gandolfo.
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 Dear brothers and sisters,
 Today I would like to return briefly in mind and heart to the extraordinary days spent in Madrid for the XXVI World Youth Day. It was, as you know, a moving ecclesial event: approximately 2 million youth from every continent gathered for a truly exceptional experience of fraternity, of encounter with the Lord, of sharing and of growth in the faith: a true cascade of light. I thank God for this precious gift, which gives hope for the future of the Church: young people with the unwavering and sincere desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain firm in the faith, and to walk together with the Church.
 A thanks to all those who worked so generously for this Day: the cardinal archbishop of Madrid, his auxiliaries, the other bishops of Spain and of other parts of the world, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, priests, men and women religious and lay faithful. I renew my gratitude to the Spanish authorities, to the institutions and associations, to the volunteers and to all those who offered the support of their prayer. Nor can I forget the warm welcome I received from their majesties the king and queen of Spain, as well as from the entire country.
 Naturally I cannot describe in only a few words the intense moments we experienced. I have in mind the uncontainable enthusiasm with which the young people welcomed me the first day at Plaza de Cibeles, their words so rich in expectations; their strong desire to turn to the most profound truth and to root themselves in it -- that truth that God has given us to know in Christ.
 In the imposing Monastery of El Escorial -- so rich in history, spirituality and culture -- I met with young women religious and young university professors. I reminded the former -- the young women religious -- of the beauty of their vocation lived with fidelity, and the importance of their apostolic service and their prophetic witness. And within me there remains the impression of their enthusiasm, of a youthful faith, full of courage for the future and of a willingness to serve mankind. I reminded professors to be true educators of the new generations by guiding them in the search for truth -- not only by their words but also by their lives -- aware that the Truth is Christ Himself. In encountering Christ, we encounter the truth.
 That evening, in the celebration of the Way of the Cross, a variegated multitude of young people relived with great intensity the scenes of the passion and death of Christ: the cross of Christ gives much more than it demands -- it gives all, because it leads us to God.
 The following day, the Holy Mass [was celebrated] in the Cathedral of Almudena, Madrid, with seminarians: young men who want to root themselves in Christ in order to make Him present one day as His ministers. I hope that vocations to the priesthood increase! Among those present, there was more than one who had heard the call of the Lord at a former World Youth Day. I am certain that -- also in Madrid -- the Lord knocked at the door of the hearts of many young men, [calling them] to follow Him generously in priestly ministry or in religious life.
 The visit to a center for disabled youth allowed me to see the great respect and love that is fostered toward each person, and it provided me the occasion to thank the thousands of volunteers who silently witness to the Gospel of charity and of life.
 The evening Prayer Vigil and the great concluding Eucharistic Celebration the day after were two very intense moments: In the evening a great multitude of young people full of joy – and not at all intimidated by the rain and wind -- remained in silent adoration of Christ present in the Eucharist, to praise Him, to thank Him, to ask of Him help and light; and then on Sunday, the young people showed their exuberance and joy in celebrating the Lord in Word and Eucharist, in order that they might enter ever more deeply into Him and strengthen their faith and Christian life.
 In a climate of enthusiasm, lastly I met with volunteers, whom I thanked for their generosity, and with the farewell ceremony I left the country carrying these days in my heart as a great gift.
 Dear friends, the meeting in Madrid was, first and foremost, a marvelous demonstration of faith -- for Spain and for the world. For the multitude of young people who had come from every corner of the world, it was a special occasion to reflect, discuss, exchange positive experiences and, above all, to pray together and to renew their commitment to root their own lives in Christ, the Faithful Friend. I am sure that they have returned home, and that they return there with the firm purpose of being a leaven in society by carrying the hope that is born of faith. For my part, I continue to accompany them in prayer, so that they might remain faithful to the commitments they have assumed. I entrust the fruits of this Day to the maternal intercession of Mary.
 And now, I desire to announce the themes of the next World Youth Days. Next year's, which will take place in the individual dioceses, will have as its motto: "Rejoice in the Lord always!" taken from the Letter to the Philippians (4:4); while the motto for the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro will be Jesus' mandate: "Go and make disciples of all nations!" (cf. Matthew 28:19). With this, I entrust to everyone's prayer the preparations for these very important meetings. Thank you.
 [Translation by Diane Montagna]
 [The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
 I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today. Having just returned from Madrid, I greet affectionately the young people present, especially those who were with me for the unforgettable celebration of World Youth Day. I also welcome those present from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and the United States. May God bless all of you and remain with you forever!
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Papal Message for World Youth Day

Vatican text of the Pope's message

"We Too Want to Be Able to See Jesus"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 3, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Aug. 6 message for World Youth Day, which was released today.

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"Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7)

Dear Friends,

I often think back on the World Youth Day held in Sydney in 2008. There we had an experience of a great festival of faith in which the Spirit of God was actively at work, building deep communion among the participants who had come from all over the world. That gathering, like those on previous occasions, bore rich fruit in the lives of many young people and in the life of the whole Church. Now we are looking forward to the next World Youth Day, to be held in Madrid in August 2011. Back in 1989, several months before the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, this pilgrimage of young people halted in Spain, in Santiago de Compostela. Now, at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots, our meeting will take place in Madrid with the theme: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). I encourage you to take part in this event, which is so important for the Church in Europe and for the universal Church. I would like all young people - those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, but also those who are wavering or uncertain, or who do not believe in him - to share this experience, which can prove decisive for their lives. It is an experience of the Lord Jesus, risen and alive, and of his love for each of us.

1. At the source of your deepest aspirations

In every period of history, including our own, many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of them yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love, to start a family that will remain united, to achieve personal fulfilment and real security, all of which are the guarantee of a serene and happy future. In thinking of my own youth, I realize that stability and security are not the questions that most occupy the minds of young people. True enough, it is important to have a job and thus to have firm ground beneath our feet, yet the years of our youth are also a time when we are seeking to get the most out of life. When I think back on that time, I remember above all that we were not willing to settle for a conventional middle-class life. We wanted something great, something new. We wanted to discover life itself, in all its grandeur and beauty. Naturally, part of that was due to the times we lived in. During the Nazi dictatorship and the war, we were, so to speak, "hemmed in" by the dominant power structure. So we wanted to break out into the open, to experience the whole range of human possibilities. I think that, to some extent, this urge to break out of the ordinary is present in every generation. Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said "our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you". The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his "imprint". God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life. Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life. To set God aside is to separate ourselves from that source and, inevitably, to deprive ourselves of fulfilment and joy: "without the Creator, the creature fades into nothingness" (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 36). In some parts of the world, particularly in the West, today's culture tends to exclude God, and to consider faith a purely private issue with no relevance for the life of society. Even though the set of values underpinning society comes from the Gospel - values like the sense of the dignity of the person, of solidarity, of work and of the family -, we see a certain "eclipse of God" taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.

For this reason, dear friends, I encourage you to strengthen your faith in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are the future of society and of the Church! As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Colossae, it is vital to have roots, a solid foundation! This is particularly true today. Many people have no stable points of reference on which to build their lives, and so they end up deeply insecure. There is a growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist. But this way of thinking does not lead to true freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment. As young people, you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives: like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.

2. Planted and built up in Jesus Christ

In order to highlight the importance of faith in the lives of believers, I would like to reflect with you on each of the three terms used by Saint Paul in the expression: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). We can distinguish three images: "planted" calls to mind a tree and the roots that feed it; "built up" refers to the construction of a house; "firm" indicates growth in physical or moral strength. These images are very eloquent. Before commenting on them, I would like to point out that grammatically all three terms in the original text are in the passive voice. This means that it is Christ himself who takes the initiative to plant, build up and confirm the faithful.

The first image is that of a tree which is firmly planted thanks to its roots, which keep it upright and give it nourishment. Without those roots, it would be blown away by the wind and would die. What are our roots? Naturally our parents, our families and the culture of our country are very important elements of our personal identity. But the Bible reveals a further element. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jer 17:7-8). For the prophet, to send out roots means to put one's trust in God. From him we draw our life. Without him, we cannot truly live. "God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn 5:11). Jesus himself tells us that he is our life (cf. Jn 14:6). Consequently, Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an encounter with the Son of God that gives new energy to the whole of our existence. When we enter into a personal relationship with him, Christ reveals our true identity and, in friendship with him, our life grows towards complete fulfilment. There is a moment, when we are young, when each of us wonders: what meaning does my life have? What purpose and direction should I give to it? This is a very important moment, and it can worry us, perhaps for some time. We start wondering about the kind of work we should take up, the kind of relationships we should establish, the friendships we should cultivate... Here, once more, I think of my own youth. I was somehow aware quite early on that the Lord wanted me to be a priest. Then later, after the war, when I was in the seminary and at university on the way towards that goal, I had to recapture that certainty. I had to ask myself: is this really the path I was meant to take? Is this really God's will for me? Will I be able to remain faithful to him and completely at his service? A decision like this demands a certain struggle. It cannot be otherwise. But then came the certainty: this is the right thing! Yes, the Lord wants me, and he will give me strength. If I listen to him and walk with him, I become truly myself. What counts is not the fulfilment of my desires, but of his will. In this way life becomes authentic.

Just as the roots of a tree keep it firmly planted in the soil, so the foundations of a house give it long-lasting stability. Through faith, we have been built up in Jesus Christ (cfr Col 2:7), even as a house is built on its foundations. Sacred history provides many examples of saints who built their lives on the word of God. The first is Abraham, our father in faith, who obeyed God when he was asked to leave his ancestral home and to set out for an unknown land. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God" (Jas 2:23). Being built up in Jesus Christ means responding positively to God's call, trusting in him and putting his word into practice. Jesus himself reprimanded his disciples: "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord', and do not do what I tell you?" (Lk 6:46). He went on to use the image of building a house: "I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built" (Lk 6:47-48).

Dear friends, build your own house on rock, just like the person who "dug deeply". Try each day to follow Christ's word. Listen to him as a true friend with whom you can share your path in life. With him at your side, you will find courage and hope to face difficulties and problems, and even to overcome disappointments and set-backs. You are constantly being offered easier choices, but you yourselves know that these are ultimately deceptive and cannot bring you serenity and joy. Only the word of God can show us the authentic way, and only the faith we have received is the light which shines on our path. Gratefully accept this spiritual gift which you have received from your families; strive to respond responsibly to God's call, and to grow in your faith. Do not believe those who tell you that you don't need others to build up your life! Find support in the faith of those who are dear to you, in the faith of the Church, and thank the Lord that you have received it and have made it your own!

3. Firm in the faith

You are "planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). The Letter from which these words are taken was written by Saint Paul in order to respond to a specific need of the Christians in the city of Colossae. That community was threatened by the influence of certain cultural trends that were turning the faithful away from the Gospel. Our own cultural context, dear young people, is not unlike that of the ancient Colossians. Indeed, there is a strong current of secularist thought that aims to make God marginal in the lives of people and society by proposing and attempting to create a "paradise" without him. Yet experience tells us that a world without God becomes a "hell": filled with selfishness, broken families, hatred between individuals and nations, and a great deficit of love, joy and hope. On the other hand, wherever individuals and nations accept God's presence, worship him in truth and listen to his voice, then the civilization of love is being built, a civilization in which the dignity of all is respected, and communion increases, with all its benefits. Yet some Christians allow themselves to be seduced by secularism or attracted by religious currents that draw them away from faith in Jesus Christ. There are others who, while not yielding to these enticements, have simply allowed their faith to grow cold, with inevitable negative effects on their moral lives.

To those Christians influenced by ideas alien to the Gospel the Apostle Paul spoke of the power of Christ's death and resurrection. This mystery is the foundation of our lives and the centre of Christian faith. All philosophies that disregard it and consider it "foolishness" (1 Cor 1:23) reveal their limitations with respect to the great questions deep in the hearts of human beings. As the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I too want to confirm you in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). We firmly believe that Jesus Christ offered himself on the Cross in order to give us his love. In his passion, he bore our sufferings, took upon himself our sins, obtained forgiveness for us and reconciled us with God the Father, opening for us the way to eternal life. Thus we were freed from the thing that most encumbers our lives: the slavery of sin. We can love everyone, even our enemies, and we can share this love with the poorest of our brothers and sisters and all those in difficulty.

Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God's "yes" to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus' heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God's love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.

4. Believing in Jesus Christ without having seen him

In the Gospel we find a description of the Apostle Thomas's experience of faith when he accepted the mystery of the Cross and resurrection of Christ. Thomas was one of the twelve Apostles. He followed Jesus and was an eyewitness of his healings and miracles. He listened to his words, and he experienced dismay at Jesus' death. That Easter evening when the Lord appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not present. When he was told that Jesus was alive and had shown himself, Thomas stated: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe" (Jn 20:25).

We too want to be able to see Jesus, to speak with him and to feel his presence even more powerfully. For many people today, it has become difficult to approach Jesus. There are so many images of Jesus in circulation which, while claiming to be scientific, detract from his greatness and the uniqueness of his person. That is why, after many years of study and reflection, I thought of sharing something of my own personal encounter with Jesus by writing a book. It was a way to help others see, hear and touch the Lord in whom God came to us in order to make himself known. Jesus himself, when he appeared again to his disciples a week later, said to Thomas: "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe" (Jn 20:27). We too can have tangible contact with Jesus and put our hand, so to speak, upon the signs of his Passion, the signs of his love. It is in the sacraments that he draws particularly near to us and gives himself to us. Dear young people, learn to "see" and to "meet" Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present and close to us, and even becomes food for our journey. In the sacrament of Penance the Lord reveals his mercy and always grants us his forgiveness. Recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, and in our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and in need of help.

Enter into a personal dialogue with Jesus Christ and cultivate it in faith. Get to know him better by reading the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Converse with him in prayer, and place your trust in him. He will never betray that trust! "Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150). Thus you will acquire a mature and solid faith, one which will not be based simply on religious sentiment or on a vague memory of the catechism you studied as a child. You will come to know God and to live authentically in union with him, like the Apostle Thomas who showed his firm faith in Jesus in the words: "My Lord and my God!".

5. Sustained by the faith of the Church, in order to be witnesses

Jesus said to Thomas: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" (Jn 20:29). He was thinking of the path the Church was to follow, based on the faith of eyewitnesses: the Apostles. Thus we come to see that our personal faith in Christ, which comes into being through dialogue with him, is bound to the faith of the Church. We do not believe as isolated individuals, but rather, through Baptism, we are members of this great family; it is the faith professed by the Church which reinforces our personal faith. The Creed that we proclaim at Sunday Mass protects us from the danger of believing in a God other than the one revealed by Christ: "Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 166). Let us always thank the Lord for the gift of the Church, for the Church helps us to advance securely in the faith that gives us true life (cf. Jn 20:31).

In the history of the Church, the saints and the martyrs have always drawn from the glorious Cross of Christ the strength to be faithful to God even to the point of offering their own lives. In faith they found the strength to overcome their weaknesses and to prevail over every adversity. Indeed, as the Apostle John says, "Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 Jn 5:5). The victory born of faith is that of love. There have been, and still are, many Christians who are living witnesses of the power of faith that is expressed in charity. They have been peacemakers, promoters of justice and workers for a more humane world, a world in accordance with God's plan. With competence and professionalism, they have been committed in different sectors of the life of society, contributing effectively to the welfare of all. The charity that comes from faith led them to offer concrete witness by their actions and words. Christ is not a treasure meant for us alone; he is the most precious treasure we have, one that is meant to be shared with others. In our age of globalization, be witnesses of Christian hope all over the world. How many people long to receive this hope! Standing before the tomb of his friend Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, as he was about to call the dead man back to life, Jesus said to Lazarus' sister Martha: "If you believe, you will see the glory of God" (cf. Jn 11:40). In the same way, if you believe, and if you are able to live out your faith and bear witness to it every day, you will become a means of helping other young people like yourselves to find the meaning and joy of life, which is born of an encounter with Christ!

6. On the way to World Youth Day in Madrid

Dear friends, once again I invite you to attend World Youth Day in Madrid. I await each of you with great joy. Jesus Christ wishes to make you firm in faith through the Church. The decision to believe in Jesus Christ and to follow him is not an easy one. It is hindered by our personal failures and by the many voices that point us towards easier paths. Do not be discouraged. Rather, look for the support of the Christian community, the support of the Church! Throughout this year, carefully prepare for the meeting in Madrid with the bishops, priests and youth leaders in your dioceses, parish communities, associations and movements. The quality of our meeting will depend above all on our spiritual preparation, our prayer, our common hearing of the word of God and our mutual support.

Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God. The Church in Spain is actively preparing to welcome you and to share this joyful experience of faith with you. I thank the dioceses, parishes, shrines, religious communities, ecclesial associations and movements, and all who are hard at work in preparing for this event. The Lord will not fail to grant them his blessings. May the Virgin Mary accompany you along this path of preparation. At the message of the angel, she received God's word with faith. It was in faith that she consented to what God was accomplishing in her. By proclaiming her "fiat", her "yes", she received the gift of immense charity which led her to give herself entirely to God. May she intercede for each one of you so that, in the coming World Youth Day you may grow in faith and love. I assure you of a paternal remembrance in my prayers and I give you my heartfelt blessing.

From the Vatican, 6 August 2010, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.


On the World Youth Day Message
"Friendship With Jesus Is Able to Give to a Young Person What He Needs"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

First of all I am sorry for being late! I have just returned at this moment from Carpineto Romano, where, 200 years ago, Pope Leo XIII was born, Vicenzo Gioacchino Pecci. I thank the Lord for having been able to celebrate the Eucharist among his fellow citizens [of Carpineto Romano] on this important occasion. I would now like briefly to present my recently published Message for the 26th World Youth Day, which will take place in Madrid in less than a year.

The theme that I have chosen for this message takes up a theme of the Letter to the Colossians of the Apostle Paul: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (2:7). It is a resolutely counter-current proposal! Indeed, who today proposes to young people to be “planted” and “firm”? Rather, uncertainty, mobility, volubility are exalted … all aspects that reflect a culture that is indecisive in regard to basic values, principles on the basis of which one’s life is oriented and regulated.

In reality, I myself, through my experience and through contact I have with young people, know well that every generation, indeed, every individual person is newly called to follow the path of discovering the meaning of life. And it is precisely on account of this that I wanted to re-propose a message that, following the biblical style, evokes the images of the tree and the house. The young person, in fact, is like a tree that is growing: to develop well, he needs deep roots that -- when there comes a storm with strong winds -- keep him firmly planted in the soil. Thus, also the image of the building under construction recalls the urgency of sound foundations so that the house is solid and secure.

And here is the heart of the message: It is in the expressions “in Jesus Christ” and “in the faith.” The full maturity of the person, his interior stability, has its basis in relation to God, a relation that passes through the encounter with Jesus Christ. A relationship of deep trust, of authentic friendship with Jesus is able to give to a young person what he needs to deal well with life: serenity and interior light, a capacity to think positively, generosity of soul toward others, availability to give oneself for the good, justice and truth. A last very important aspect: to be a believer the young person is supported by the faith of the Church; if no man is an island, much less is a Christian, who in the Church discovers the beauty of faith shared and witnessed together with others in fraternity and the service of charity.

This message of mine to young people has the date of August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. May the light of the face of Christ shine in the heart of every young person! And may the Virgin Mary accompany with her protection the path of the communities and groups of young people toward the great meeting in Madrid in 2011.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English he said:]

Having just returned from Carpineto Romano, the birthplace of my Predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this “Angelus” prayer. May Pope Leo’s social magisterium continue to inspire the efforts of the faithful to build a just society rooted in the teachings of Christ. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[And in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.


Benedict XVI Interview with Journalists during the Flight to Madrid

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: Holy Father, we have come to the 26th World Youth Day, the 12th to be celebrated with an important world meeting. John Paul II, who invented the Youth Days, is now Blessed and is the official Patron of this World Youth Day in Madrid. At the beginning of your Pontificate people wondered whether you would continue along the same lines as your Predecessor. This is now your third World Youth Day, after Cologne and Sydney. How do you view the significance of these events in the pastoral “strategy” of the universal Church in the third millennium?

The Holy Father: Dear friends, good morning! I am glad to be going to Spain with you for this great event. After personally experiencing two WYDs, I can only say that Pope John Paul II was truly inspired when he created this important meeting of young people and of the world with the Lord.

I would say that these World Youth Days are a sign, a cascade of light; they give visibility to the faith and to God’s presence in the world, and thus create the courage to be believers. Believers often feel isolated in this world, almost lost. Here they see that they are not alone, that there is a great network of faith, a great community of believers in the world, that it is beautiful to live in this universal friendship. And thus, it seems to me, friendships are born, friendships beyond the confines of different cultures and different countries. And this birth of a universal network of friendship that links the world and God, is an important reality for the future of humanity, for the life of humanity today.

Naturally, the WYD cannot be an isolated event; it is part of a larger process, it should be prepared for by this journey of the Cross that transmigrates to different countries and already unites young people in the sign of the cross and in the marvellous sign of Our Lady. So it is that the preparation for the World Youth Day is of course far more than the technical plan for an event with a great many technical hitches; it is an inner preparation, a starting out towards others, together towards God. Then, later, the foundation of groups of friends follows, preserving this universal contact that opens the boundaries between cultures, between human and religious differences, hence it is a continuous journey that leads subsequently to a new summit, to a new World Youth Day. It seems to me, in this sense, that the World Youth Day should be seen as a sign, as part of a great journey; it creates friendships, opens frontiers and makes visible the beauty of our being with God and of God’s being with us. In this regard, let us continue to implement Bl. Pope John Paul II's important idea.

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: Your Holiness, times are changing. Europe and the Western world in general are going through a profound economic crisis which is also showing dimensions of serious social and moral hardship and great uncertainty for the future which is becoming particularly acute for young people. In the past few days we have seen, for example, what happened in Great Britain when rebellion and aggressiveness were unleashed. At the same time there are signs of generous and enthusiastic commitment, of voluntary service and of solidarity, of young believers and non-believers alike. In Madrid we shall meet a large number of marvellous young people. What message of hope can the Church provide to encourage youth throughout the world, especially those who feel discouraged today and are tempted to rebel?

The Holy Father: It is this. In the current economic crisis what formerly appeared in the previous great crisis has been confirmed: namely, that the ethical dimension is not alien to economic problems but an internal and fundamental dimension of them. The economy does not function with a self-regulation of the market alone, but it needs an ethical reason if it is to function for man. And once again Pope John II’s words in his first social Encyclical become apparent: man must be the centre of the economy and the economy cannot be measured according to the maxim of profit but rather according to the common good of all, that it implies responsibility for others and only really functions well if it functions humanly, with respect for others. And with the different dimensions: responsibility for one's own nation and not only for oneself; responsibility for the world – even a nation is not isolated, even Europe is not isolated but is responsible for the whole of humanity and must always think about economic problems in this key of responsibility for the other parts of the world too, for all who suffer, who thirst and hunger, who have no future. And so – a third dimension of this responsibility – is responsibility for the future.

We know we must protect our planet but, all things considered, we must protect a functional service of employment for everyone and realize that tomorrow is also today. If today’s young people have no prospects in life then our own life today is misguided and “wrong”. Therefore the Church, with her social doctrine, with her doctrine on responsibility to God, proposes the readiness to give up the maxim of profit and to see things in the humanistic and religious dimension: in other words existing for each other. Thus new ways can also be found. The throngs of volunteers who are working in various parts of the world, not for themselves but for others, and who thereby find the meaning of life, show that it is possible to do this and that an education in these great goals, such as the Church tries to provide, is fundamental for our future.

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: Youth today generally live in multicultural and multidenominational milieus. Reciprocal tolerance is more necessary than ever. You stress the importance of truth. Do you not think that this insistence on truth and on the one Truth which is Christ is a problem for the young today? Don't you think that this insistence might lead to opposition and to difficulty in dialogue and in seeking together with others?

The Holy Father: The connection between truth and intolerance, monotheism and the incapacity for dialogue with others is a subject that recurs frequently in the discussion on Christianity today. And, of course, it is true that in history there have been instances of abuse, both of the concept of truth and of the concept of monotheism; but there has been abuse. The reality is totally different. The hypothesis is erroneous because truth is only accessible in freedom. It is possible to impose forms of conduct, observance or activity with violence, but not truth!

Truth is only open to freedom, to free consent, and therefore freedom and truth are closely tied, the one is a condition for the other. Besides, there is no alternative to seeking the truth, the true values that give life and a future: we do not want falsehood, we do not want the positivism of norms imposed with a certain force; true values alone lead to the future; and let us say that it is therefore necessary to seek true values and not to permit the arbitrariness of the few, not to let a positivist reason be established which tells us, concerning ethical problems, the great problems of humanity: that there is no rational truth. This would really be exposing man to the will of those in power. We must always be in search of the truth, of true values; we have a nucleus in the fundamental values, in human rights; other similar fundamental elements are recognized and precisely these put us in dialogue with one another. The truth as such is dialogical because it seeks to know better, to understand better and does so in dialogue with others. Thus, seeking the truth and the dignity of the human being is the greatest guarantee of freedom.

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: The World Youth Days are a beautiful interlude and give rise to great enthusiasm, but the young people then go home and find a world in which religious practice is rapidly diminishing. Many of them will probably not be seen again in church. How can the fruits of the World Youth Days be ensured in the future? Do you think the Days effectively produce fruits that last longer than the momentary bursts of enthusiasm?

The Holy Father: God always sows in silence. The results are not immediately apparent in the statistics. And the seed the Lord scatters on the ground with the World Youth Days is like the seed of which he speaks in the Gospel: some seeds fell along the path and were lost; some fell on rocky ground and were lost, some fell upon thorns and were lost; but other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth abundant fruit.

It is exactly like this with the sowing of the WYDs: a great deal is lost – and this is human. To borrow other words from the Lord: the mustard seed was small, but it grew and became a great tree. And with yet other words: of course, a great deal is lost, we cannot say straight away that there will be an immense growth of the Church tomorrow. God does not act in this way. However, the Church grows in silence and vigorously. I know from other World Youth Days that a great many friendships were born, friendships for life; a great many experiences that God exists. And let us place trust in this silent growth, and we may be certain, even if the statistics do not tell us much, that the Lord’s seed really grows and will be for very many people the beginning of a friendship with God and with others, of a universality of thought, of a common responsibility which really shows us that these days do bear fruit. Many thanks!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Benedict XVI's Greeting to Youth
 "You Have Responded in Great Numbers to the Lord's Call to Come and Meet Him"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 18, 2011 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the welcome ceremony with the youth, held in Madrid's Cibeles Square.
 * * *
 Dear Young Friends,
 It is a great joy for me to meet you here in the heart of this lovely city of Madrid, whose keys the Lord Mayor has kindly presented me. Today Madrid is also the capital of the world's young people, and the gaze of the whole Church is fixed here. The Lord has brought us together here so that during these days we can experience the beauty of World Youth Day. Through your presence and your participation in these celebrations, the name of Christ will echo throughout this great City. Let us pray that his message of hope and love will also resound in the hearts of those who are not believers or who have grown distant from the Church. Many thanks for the splendid welcome which you gave me as I entered the City, as a sign of your love and closeness to the Successor of Peter.
 I greet Cardinal Stanis?aw Ry?ko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and his staff in that Council, with gratitude for all the work which they have done. I also thank Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, the Archbishop of Madrid, for his kind words and for the efforts made by his Archdiocese, along with the other Dioceses of Spain, in preparing this World Youth Day; my thanks also go to all those in so many other Particular Churches throughout the world who have generously contributed to its preparation. I express appreciation to the national, the autonomous regional and the local authorities for their presence and for their generous help in ensuring the good organization of this great event. My thanks go also to my brother Bishops, the priests and seminarians, the consecrated men and women and all the faithful present here today, who have helped to prepare the young people to experience these intense days of pilgrimage towards an encounter with Christ. I offer all of you a heartfelt greeting in the Lord and I repeat that it is a great blessing for me to be here with you. May the flame of Christ’s love burn always bright in your hearts.
 Dear young French-speaking people, you have responded in great numbers to the Lord's call to come and meet him in Madrid. I congratulate you for this! Welcome to World Youth Day! You have brought with you profound questions, and you are seeking answers. It is always a good thing to keep seeking. Above all, seek the Truth, which is not an idea or an ideology or a slogan, but a person: Christ, God himself, who has come into our midst! You rightly wish to plant your faith in him, to ground your life in Christ. He has always loved you and he knows you better than anyone else. May these days so rich in prayer, teaching and encounters help you to rediscover this, so that you may love him all the more. May Christ accompany you during this special time when, all together, we shall sing his praises and offer him our prayers!
 I extend an affectionate greeting to the many English-speaking young people who have come to Madrid. May these days of prayer, friendship and celebration bring us closer to each other and to the Lord Jesus. Make trust in Christ’s word the foundation of your lives! Planted and built up in him, firm in the faith and open to the power of the Spirit, you will find your place in God’s plan and enrich the Church with your gifts. Let us pray for one another, so that we may be joyful witnesses to Christ, today and always. God bless you all!
 Dear German-speaking friends! I greet all of you with great affection. I am happy that you have come in such great numbers. During these days we want together to confess our faith in Jesus Christ, to deepen that faith and to pass it on. Let us realize ever anew that Jesus is the one who gives true meaning to our lives. Let us open our hearts to Christ. May he grant all of us a joyful and blessed time here in Madrid.
 Dear young Italians! I greet you with great affection and I am delighted that so many of you have come here, filled with the joy of faith. Experience these days in a spirit of intense prayer and fraternity, and testify to the vitality of the Church in Italy, its parishes, associations and movements. Share this wealth with everyone. Thank you!
 Dear young people of the different countries whose official language is Portuguese, and all those who accompany you, welcome to Madrid! I greet all of you with friendship and affection and I invite you to draw close to the eternal source of your youth and to know the absolute protagonist of this World Youth Day and – I hope – of your own lives: Christ the Lord. In these days you will personally hear his word resound. Let this word into your hearts, let it take root, and make it the foundation of your lives. Firm in the faith, you will be a link in the great chain of believers. No one can believe without being supported by the faith of others, and by my faith I also help to support others in the faith. The Church needs you, and you need the Church.
 I greet the young people who have come from Poland, countrymen of Blessed John Paul II, the founder of World Youth Day. I am delighted by your presence here in Madrid! I pray that these will be good days, days of prayer, in which you will strengthen your relationship with Jesus. May God’s Spirit guide you.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Response to Youth Welcome Ceremony
 "Build Your Lives Upon the Firm Foundation Which Is Christ"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 18, 2011 - Here is the second address that Benedict XVI delivered today at the welcome ceremony with the youth, held in Madrid's Cibeles Square.
 * * *
 Dear Friends,
 Thank you for the kind words addressed to me by the young people representing the five continents. And I salute with affection all of you gathered here, young people from Oceania, Africa, America, Asia and Europe; and also those unable to be here. I always keep you very much in my heart and pray for you. God has given me the grace to see and hear you for myself and, as we gather together, to listen to his word.
 In the reading which has just been proclaimed, we heard a passage from the Gospel which talks of welcoming the words of Jesus and putting them into practice. There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral. They do not bring us to him and, as a result, Christ stays remote, just one voice among the many others around us which are so familiar. Furthermore, the Master who speaks teaches, not something learned from others, but that which he himself is, the only one who truly knows the path of man towards God, because he is the one who opened it up for us, he made it so that we might have authentic lives, lives which are always worth living, in every circumstance, and which not even death can destroy. The Gospel continues, explaining these things with the evocative image of someone who builds on solid rock, resistant to the onslaught of adversity, and in contrast to someone who builds on sand - we would say today in what appears a paradise - but which collapses with the first gust of wind and falls into ruins.
 Dear young people, listen closely to the words of the Lord, that they may be for you “spirit and life” (Jn 6:63), roots which nourish your being, a rule of life which likens us - poor in spirit, thirsting for justice, merciful, pure in heart, lovers of peace - to the person of Christ. Listen regularly every day as if he were the one friend who does not deceive, the one with whom we wish to share the path of life. Of course, you know that when we do not walk beside Christ our guide, we get lost on other paths, like the path of our blind and selfish impulses, or the path of flattering but self-serving suggestions, deceiving and fickle, which leave emptiness and frustration in their wake.
 Use these days to know Christ better and to make sure that, rooted in him, your enthusiasm and happiness, your desire to go further, to reach the heights, even God himself, always hold a sure future, because the fullness of life has already been placed within you. Let that life grow with divine grace, generously and without half-measures, as you remain steadfast in your aim for holiness. And, in the face of our weaknesses which sometimes overwhelm us, we can rely on the mercy of the Lord who is always ready to help us again and who offers us pardon in the sacrament of Penance.
 If you build on solid rock, not only your life will be solid and stable, but it will also help project the light of Christ shining upon those of your own age and upon the whole of humanity, presenting a valid alternative to all those who have fallen short, because the essentials in their lives were inconsistent; to all those who are content to follow fashionable ideas, they take shelter in the here and now, forgetting true justice, or they take refuge in their own opinions instead of seeking the simple truth.
 Indeed, there are many who, creating their own gods, believe they need no roots or foundations other than themselves. They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment. These temptations are always lying in wait. It is important not to give in to them because, in reality, they lead to something so evanescent, like an existence with no horizons, a liberty without God. We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness, responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative co-workers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation. God is looking for a responsible interlocutor, someone who can dialogue with him and love him. Through Christ we can truly succeed and, established in him, we give wings to our freedom. Is this not the great reason for our joy? Isn’t this the firm ground upon which to build the civilization of love and life, capable of humanizing all of us?
 Dear friends: be prudent and wise, build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, nothing will make you fear and peace will reign in your hearts. Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others. They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe.
 He died for us all, rising that we might have life, and now, from the throne of the Father, he accompanies all men and women, watching continually over each one of us.
 I commend the fruits of this World Youth Day to the most holy Virgin Mary, who said “Yes” to the will of God, and teaches us a unique example of fidelity to her divine son, whom she followed to his death upon the Cross. Let us meditate upon this more deeply in the Stations of the Cross. And let us pray that, like her, our “Yes” to Christ today may also be an unconditional “Yes” to his friendship, both at the end of this Day and throughout our entire lives. Thank you very much.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
King of Spain's Greeting to Benedict XVI
 "Encourage the Youth ... of the Whole World to Go On Growing in Values"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 18, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address King Juan Carlos I of Spain delivered today at the ceremony, held at the State Pavilion of the Madrid-Barajas Airport, that welcomed Benedict XVI to the country on the first day of his four-day trip to the nation's capital.
 The Holy Father is in Madrid through Sunday to participate in the 26th World Youth Day.
 * * *
 Your Holiness,
 It is from the heart that I welcome you most warmly to Spain, a country that greets you with great joy and pleasant memories of your earlier visits here, occasions on which we were privileged to enjoy your friendship and amiability.
 We are honored that you are today beginning your third visit to Spain in the six years of your Pontificate.
 We see this as a special distinction for our country, which we greatly esteem and appreciate.
 Once again, your stay among us, and we hope you will make yourself quite at home, is pregnant with meaning and import.
 We know how you have looked forward to coming to Madrid, one of Europe's most open and hospitable capitals, to meet young people from all over the world and reach out to them with the power of your word.
 Hundreds of thousands of young men and women from the different parts of Spain and the four corners of the Earth eagerly await you to hold the Twenty-Sixth World Youth Day and to receive your message in all its profundity.
 We are keenly aware that the organization of this event has for years expressed the Church's desire to support and stand by young people as they seek to fulfill their legitimate aspirations in this complex and interdependent world.
 We also retain fond memories of the great figure of His Holiness Pope John Paul the Second, who inspired this initiative and also made his third visit to Spain to preside at the memorable Fourth World Youth Day held in 1989 in Santiago de Compostela.
 Holy Father,
 World Youth Day returns for a second time to Spain, a country whose young people, families and institutions are delighted to welcome all of our visitors from all over the world with open arms.
 Many have come a long way to attest their ambition to make the world a better place in a climate of friendship.
 In Spain they will find a country that is open to the world in its history, language and culture, and a great democratic nation that is both ancient and diverse, peace-loving and desirous of freedom and justice.
 As I stressed on the occasion of your farewell from Barcelona, the artistic, cultural and religious contribution of Christianity is key to understanding Spain’s historical personality.
 Spain is committed to Europe and has a profound Latin American and Mediterranean vocation. It is at the same time a nation of committed youth, amply reflected in the involvement of our young people in Cooperation and Development work and international peace keeping operations.
 The deep feelings of solidarity, social commitment and eager pursuit of personal realization shown by Spanish youth, the best educated generation in our history, inspire our pride and confidence in the future.
 Holy Father,
 We have seen great changes in the lives of ordinary men and women and on the international scene since the First World Youth Day.
 Together with progress, discoveries and new opportunities, however, poverty persists along with disease, attacks on human rights and the dignity of human beings, and above all the pain of wars and the unacceptable scourge of terrorism.
 As this World Youth Day begins, we cannot but remember the countless children and young men and women who are the victims of violence, and for whom we keep a special place in our hearts today.
 Your Holiness,
 All of those who have come to Madrid await your teachings of peace, charity and justice to shape their lives, successfully face today’s challenges and build a better society.
 These are not easy times for young people, so often frustrated by the lack of personal horizons and jobs at the same time as they rebel against the grave problems that burden humanity and today's world.
 At the bottom of this, a profound crisis of values can be felt. Youth needs not only opportunity but an example from the older generation. It is not merely arguments but motivational attitudes that fill and drive young people’s existence and breathe hope into their lives.
 As Your Holiness has said in your message to this World Youth Day, "To desire what is truly great is a part of being young."
 We cannot afford to disappoint young people in their legitimate desire to make their dreams a reality. Their aspirations and problems must be our first priority. It is their future, but it is also the future of society as a whole.
 Now is the time to redouble our support, to provide young people with all possible resources to help them make their way, to put an end to the disgrace of youth unemployment, and to encourage young people to take up the torch of the values that make humanity great.
 We trust in your inspiration, Holy Father, not only to encourage the youth of Spain and of the whole world to go on growing in values, but also to make our societies more sensitive to the need to support young people's projects and hopes.
 I repeat my most affectionate and cordial welcome in the name of the Queen, in my own, and in the name of the people of Spain and its institutions.
 Your Holiness, we wish you a happy and fruitful stay with us, this time in the historic and beautiful city of Madrid, and in this dynamic region.
 Many thanks, Your Holiness, for visiting us once again.

Pope's Words Upon Arriving in Spain
 "Discovery of the Living God Inspires Young People"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 18, 2011 - Here is the Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the welcome ceremony, held at the State Pavilion of the Madrid-Barajas Airport, on the first day of his four-day trip to Spain.
 King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and his wife, Queen Sofia, were on hand to greet the Pope, as were Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid and the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, and Spanish President José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
 The Holy Father is visiting the capital of Spain to participate in the 2011 World Youth Day, which is under way through Sunday.
 * * *
 Your Majesties,
 Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid,
 Your Eminences,
 Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
 Distinguished National, Autonomous Regional and Local Authorities,
 Dear Brothers and Sisters of Madrid and of all Spain,
 I am grateful to Your Majesty for your presence together with the Queen, and for the kind and deferential words with which you welcomed me, reviving in me the unforgettable gestures of kindness which I received during my previous Apostolic Journeys to Spain, and most particularly during my recent Visit to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. I greet very cordially those of you gathered here at Barajas and those of you following this event on radio and television. A very grateful greeting also goes to those who, with such commitment and dedication, from the ecclesiastical and civil spheres, have contributed with their efforts and work so that this World Youth Day in Madrid might unfold well and bring forth abundant fruits.
 With all my heart I also wish to recognize the hospitality so many families, parishes, schools and other institutions which have welcomed young people from all over the world, firstly in various regions and cities of Spain, and now in the great cosmopolitan and welcoming city of Madrid. I have come here to meet thousands of young people from all over the world, Catholics committed to Christ searching for the truth that will give real meaning to their existence. I come as the Successor of Peter, to confirm them all in the faith, with days of intense pastoral activity, proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; to motivate the commitment to build up the Kingdom of God in the world among us; to exhort young people to know Christ personally as a friend and so, rooted in his person, to become faithful followers and valiant witnesses.
 Why has this multitude of young people come to Madrid? While they themselves should give the reply, it may be supposed that they wish to hear the word of God, as the motto for this World Youth Day proposed to them, in such a way that, rooted and built upon Christ, they may manifest the strength of their faith.
 Many of them have heard the voice of God, perhaps only as a little whisper, which has led them to search for him more diligently and to share with others the experience of the force which he has in their lives. The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations. They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption. They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life. But, with God beside them, they will possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected. Here on this Day, they have a special opportunity to gather together their aspirations, to share the richness of their cultures and experiences, motivate each other along a journey of faith and life, in which some think they are alone or ignored in their daily existence. But they are not alone. Many people of the same age have the same aspirations and, entrusting themselves completely to Christ, know that they really have a future before them and are not afraid of the decisive commitments which fulfill their entire lives. That is why it gives me great joy to listen to them, pray with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them. World Youth Day brings us a message of hope like a pure and youthful breeze, with rejuvenating scents which fill us with confidence before the future of the Church and the world.
 Of course, there is no lack of difficulties. There are tensions and ongoing conflicts all over the world, even to the shedding of blood. Justice and the unique value of the human person are easily surrendered to selfish, material and ideological interests. Nature and the environment, created by God with so much love, are not respected. Moreover, many young people look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, or because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain. There are others who need help either to avoid drugs or to recover from their use. There are even some who, because of their faith in Christ, suffer discrimination which leads to contempt and persecution, open or hidden, which they endure in various regions and countries. They are harassed to give him up, depriving them of the signs of his presence in public life, not allowing even the mention of his holy name. But, with all my heart, I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord. He did not spare himself in becoming one like us and in experiencing our anguish so as to lift it up to God, and in this way he saved us.
 In this regard, the young followers of Jesus must be aided to remain firm in the faith and to embrace the beautiful adventure of proclaiming it and witnessing to it openly with their lives. A witness that is courageous and full of love for their brothers and sisters, resolute and at the same time prudent, without hiding its Christian identity, living together with other legitimate choices in a spirit of respect while at the same time demanding due respect for one’s own choices.
 Your Majesty, as I reiterate my thanks for the kind welcome which you gave to me, I in turn wish to express my esteem for and nearness to all the peoples of Spain, as well as my admiration for a country so rich in history and in culture through the vitality of its faith, which has borne fruit in so many saints over the centuries, in numerous men and women who, leaving their native land, brought the Gospel to every corner of the globe, and in people through all this land who act with rectitude, solidarity and goodness. It is a great treasure which should be cared for constructively, for the common good of today and in order to offer a bright horizon to future generations. Although there are currently some reasons for concern, the greatest one is the desire for the betterment of all Spaniards with that dynamism which characterizes them and to which their deep and very fruitful Christian roots have contributed so much down through the centuries.
 From this place I send very cordial greetings to you all, dear friends of Spain and Madrid, and those of you from other lands. During these days I will be with you, thinking of all young people in the world, in particular those who are going through various kinds of trial. Entrusting this Meeting to the most holy Virgin Mary, and to the patron saints of this Day, I ask God always to bless and protect the sons and daughters of Spain. Thank you very much.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pontiff's Press Conference en Route to Madrid
 "For Many People It Will Be the Beginning of a Friendship With God"
 ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, AUG. 18, 2011 - Here is a transcription and translation of the press conference Benedict XVI gave today en route to Madrid, where he will lead World Youth Day.
 * * *
 Q: Madrid's is the 26th World Youth Day. At the beginning of your pontificate, we wondered if you would continue in your predecessor's wake. What significance do you see for these events within the pastoral strategy of the universal Church?
 Benedict XVI: Dear friends, good morning. I am delighted to travel with you to Spain for this great event.
 After living two World Youth Days firsthand, I can say that it was truly an inspiration given to Pope John Paul II when he created this reality: a great meeting of young people of the world with the Lord. I would say that these WYDs are a sign, a cascade of light -- they give visibility to the faith, visibility to the presence of God in the world, and thus give the courage to be believers. Often, believers feel isolated in this world, somewhat lost. Here they see that they are not alone, that there is a great network of faith, a great community of believers in the world. [They see that] it is lovely to live in this universal friendship, and in this way friendships are born that cross the borders of cultures, of countries. The birth of a universal network of friendship that unites the world with God is an important reality for the future of humanity, for the life of humanity today.
 Naturally, WYD cannot be an isolated event; it is part of a greater journey. This journey of the cross must be prepared, which transmigrates to different countries and involves young people with the sign of the cross and the sign of the image of the Virgin. In this way the preparation of WYD, much more than a technical preparation -- and it is an event with many technical problems -- is an interior preparation, a going out to others and, together, to God. Thus groups of friendship are created. This universal contact opens the borders of cultures in a continuous journey, which then leads to a new summit, a new WYD. I think WYD should be considered in this sense as a sign, as part of a great journey; it creates friendships, opens borders, makes visible that it is beautiful to be with God, that God is with us. In this connection, we wish to continue with this great idea of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
 Q: Europe and the Western world are going through a profound economic crisis, which also shows signs of a great social and moral crisis, of great uncertainty for the future, particularly painful for young people. What messages can the Church offer to give hope and encouragement to the young people of the world?
 Benedict XVI: [We see] confirmed in the present economic crisis what has already been seen in the great preceding crisis: that an ethical dimension is not something exterior to economic problems, but an interior and fundamental dimension. The economy does not function with mercantile self-regulation alone, but it has need of an ethical reason to function for man. This can be seen in what was already said in John Paul II's first social encyclical: Man must be at the center of the economy and the economy must not be measured according to greatest profit, but according to the good of all. It includes responsibility for the other, and it really functions well only if it functions in a human way in regard to the other, in his various dimensions: responsibility with one's nation, and not just with oneself, responsibility with the world. Nations are not isolated, not even Europe is isolated, but they are responsible for the whole of humanity and must always think of addressing economic problems in a context of responsibility, in particular with the other parts of the world, with those who suffer, who are thirsty and hungry, and have no future. Hence, the third dimension of this responsibility is responsibility with the future: We know that we must protect our planet, but we must protect the functioning of the service of economic work for all and think that tomorrow is also today. If the young people of today do not find prospects in their life, our today is also mistaken, it is wrong. Therefore, the Church with her social doctrine, with her doctrine on responsibility before God, opens one to the capacity of giving up the greatest profit and seeing in realities the humanistic and religious dimension, that is, that we are made for one another and so it is also possible to open paths -- as happens with the great number of volunteers who work in different parts of the world not for themselves, but for others, and thus they find the meaning of their life. This can be achieved with an education in the great objectives, as the Church tries to do. This is essential for our future.
 Q: I would like to ask you about the relationship between truth and multi-culturalism. Can insistence on the one Truth that is Christ be a problem for young people of today?
 Benedict XVI: The relationship between truth and intolerance, monotheism and an incapacity for dialogue with others, is a discussion that frequently is taken up for debate regarding Christianity today. And of course it is true that in history there have been abuses, both of the concept of truth as well as the concept of monotheism. There have been abuses, but the reality is totally different, as truth is only accessible in liberty. A behavior, observances, a way of acting can be imposed with violence, but not truth. Truth opens only to free consent and, for this reason, liberty and truth are united intimately, one is condition of the other. Moreover, we seek truth, authentic values that give life to the future. Without a doubt, we do not want lies, we do not want the Positivism of norms imposed with a certain force. Only authentic values lead to the future and hence it is necessary to seek authentic values and not leave them to the will of some, not allow a positivist reason to be imposed that tells us that there is no rational truth on ethical problems and on man's great problems. This means exposing man to the will of those who have power. We must always be in search of truth, of values; we have fundamental human rights. These fundamental rights are known and recognized and, in fact, this puts us in dialogue with one another. Truth as such is open-minded, as it seeks to know better, to understand better, and it does so in dialogue with others. Thus, to seek truth and man's dignity is the best defense of liberty.
 Q: What must be done for the positive experience of the WYD to continue in daily life?
 Benedict XVI: God's sowing is always silent; it does not appear in the statistics, and the seed that the Lord sows with WYD is like the seed of which the Gospel speaks: part falls on the road and is lost; part falls on stone and is lost; part falls on thorns and is lost; but a part falls on good earth and gives much fruit. This is, in fact, what happens with the sowing of WYD: Much is lost and this is human. To use other words of the Lord, the mustard seed is small, but it grows and becomes a great tree. Certainly much is lost. We cannot say that starting tomorrow a great growth will begin in the Church. God does not act like this. [His seed] grows in silence. I know that other WYDs have awakened friendships, friendships for life; so many new experiences that God exists. And we trust in this silent growth, and we are certain that, although the statistics do not say much about it, the Lord's seed really grows. And for many people it will be the beginning of a friendship with God and with others, of a universality of thought, of a common responsibility that really shows that these days give fruit.
Benedict XVI's Reflection on Way of the Cross
 "The Cross Was Not a Sign of Failure, but an Expression of Self-Giving in Love"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 19, 2011 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered at the end of a celebration of the Way of the Cross with young people at Plaza de Cibeles. The event is part of the 26th World Youth Day, which is under way through Sunday.
 * * *
 Dear Young People,
 We have celebrated this Way of the Cross with fervour and devotion, following Christ along the path of his passion and death. The commentaries of the Little Sisters of the Cross, who serve the poor and most needy, have helped us enter into the mystery of Christ’s glorious Cross, wherein is found God’s true wisdom which judges the world and judges those who consider themselves wise (cf. 1 Cor 1:17-19). We have also been assisted on this journey to Calvary by our contemplation of these wonderful images from the religious patrimony of the Spanish dioceses. In these images, faith and art combine so as to penetrate our heart and summon us to conversion.
 When faith’s gaze is pure and authentic, beauty places itself at its service and is able to depict the mysteries of our salvation in such a way as to move us profoundly and transform our hearts, as Saint Teresa of Jesus herself experienced while contemplating an image of the wounded Christ (cf. Autobiography, 9:1).
 As we were making our way with Jesus towards the place of his sacrifice on Mount Calvary, the words of Saint Paul came to mind: "Christ loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20). In the face of such disinterested love, we find ourselves asking, filled with wonder and gratitude: What can we do for him? What response shall we give him? Saint John puts it succinctly: "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 Jn 3:16). Christ’s passion urges us to take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles. On the contrary, he became one of us "in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way — in flesh and blood ... hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God's compassionate love — and so the star of hope rises" (Spe Salvi, 39).
 Dear young friends, may Christ’s love for us increase your joy and encourage you to go in search of those less fortunate. You are open to the idea of sharing your lives with others, so be sure not to pass by on the other side in the face of human suffering, for it is here that God expects you to give of your very best: your capacity for love and compassion. The different forms of suffering that have unfolded before our eyes in the course of this Way of the Cross are the Lord’s way of summoning us to spend our lives following in his footsteps and becoming signs of his consolation and salvation. "To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves — these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself" (ibid.).
 Let us eagerly welcome these teachings and put them into practice. Let us look upon Christ, hanging on the harsh wood of the Cross, and let us ask him to teach us this mysterious wisdom of the Cross, by which man lives. The Cross was not a sign of failure, but an expression of self-giving in love that extends even to the supreme sacrifice of one’s life. The Father wanted to show his love for us through the embrace of his crucified Son: crucified out of love. The Cross, by its shape and its meaning, represents this love of both the Father and the Son for men. Here we recognize the icon of supreme love, which teaches us to love what God loves and in the way that he loves: this is the Good News that gives hope to the world.
 Let us turn our gaze now to the Virgin Mary, who was given to us on Calvary to be our Mother, and let us ask her to sustain us with her loving protection along the path of life, particularly when we pass through the night of suffering, so that we may be able to remain steadfast, as she did, at the foot of the Cross.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Holy Father's Words to University Professors
 "You Provide a Splendid Service in the Spread of Truth"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 19, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon addressing a gathering of young university professors at the Basilica of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Madrid. The Pope is in the Spanish capital to preside at the 26th World Youth Day, which is under way through Sunday.
 * * *
 Your Eminence,
 My Brother Bishops,
 Dear Augustinian Fathers,
 Dear Professors,
 Distinguished Authorities,
 Dear Friends,
 I have looked forward to this meeting with you, young professors in the universities of Spain. You provide a splendid service in the spread of truth, in circumstances that are not always easy. I greet you warmly and I thank you for your kind words of welcome and for the music which has marvelously resounded in this magnificent monastery, for centuries an eloquent witness to the life of prayer and study. In this highly symbolic place, reason and faith have harmoniously blended in the austere stone to shape one of Spain’s most renowned monuments.
 I also greet with particular affection those of you who took part in the recent World Congress of Catholic Universities held in Avila on the theme: "The Identity and Mission of the Catholic University".
 Being here with you, I am reminded of my own first steps as a professor at the University of Bonn. At the time, the wounds of war were still deeply felt and we had many material needs; these were compensated by our passion for an exciting activity, our interaction with colleagues of different disciplines and our desire to respond to the deepest and most basic concerns of our students. This experience of a "Universitas" of professors and students who together seek the truth in all fields of knowledge, or as Alfonso X the Wise put it, this "counsel of masters and students with the will and understanding needed to master the various disciplines" (Siete Partidas, partida II, tit. XXXI), helps us to see more clearly the importance, and even the definition, of the University.
 The theme of the present World Youth Day – "Rooted and Built Up in Christ, and Firm in the Faith" (cf. Col 2:7) can also shed light on your efforts to understand more clearly your own identity and what you are called to do. As I wrote in my Message to Young People in preparation for these days, the terms "rooted, built up and firm" all point to solid foundations on which we can construct our lives (cf. No. 2).
 But where will young people encounter those reference points in a society, which is increasingly confused and unstable? At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability. This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the University. All the same, you who, like myself, have had an experience of the University, and now are members of the teaching staff, surely are looking for something more lofty and capable of embracing the full measure of what it is to be human. We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic: from the abuses associated with a science which acknowledges no limits beyond itself, to the political totalitarianism which easily arises when one eliminates any higher reference than the mere calculus of power. The authentic idea of the University, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from this reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity.
 In truth, the University has always been, and is always called to be, the "house" where one seeks the truth proper to the human person. Consequently it was not by accident that the Church promoted the universities, for Christian faith speaks to us of Christ as the Word through whom all things were made (cf. Jn 1:3) and of men and women as made in the image and likeness of God. The Gospel message perceives a rationality inherent in creation and considers man as a creature participating in, and capable of attaining to, an understanding of this rationality. The University thus embodies an ideal which must not be attenuated or compromised, whether by ideologies closed to reasoned dialogue or by truckling to a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer.
 Here we see the vital importance of your own mission. You yourselves have the honor and responsibility of transmitting the ideal of the University: an ideal which you have received from your predecessors, many of whom were humble followers of the Gospel and, as such, became spiritual giants. We should feel ourselves their successors, in a time quite different from their own, yet one in which the essential human questions continue to challenge and stimulate us. With them, we realize that we are a link in that chain of men and women committed to teaching the faith and making it credible to human reason. And we do this not simply by our teaching, but by the way we live our faith and embody it, just as the Word took flesh and dwelt among us. Young people need authentic teachers: persons open to the fullness of truth in the various branches of knowledge, persons who listen to and experience in own hearts that interdisciplinary dialogue; persons who, above all, are convinced of our human capacity to advance along the path of truth. Youth is a privileged time for seeking and encountering truth. As Plato said: "Seek truth while you are young, for if you do not, it will later escape your grasp" (Parmenides, 135d). This lofty aspiration is the most precious gift which you can give to your students, personally and by example. It is more important than mere technical know-how, or cold and purely functional data.
 I urge you, then, never to lose that sense of enthusiasm and concern for truth. Always remember that teaching is not just about communicating content, but about forming young people. You need to understand and love them, to awaken their innate thirst for truth and their yearning for transcendence. Be for them a source of encouragement and strength.
 For this to happen, we need to realize in the first place that the path to the fullness of truth calls for complete commitment: it is a path of understanding and love, of reason and faith. We cannot come to know something unless we are moved by love; or, for that matter, love something which does not strike us as reasonable.
 "Understanding and love are not in separate compartments: love is rich in understanding and understanding is full of love" (Caritas in Veritate, 30). If truth and goodness go together, so too do knowledge and love. This unity leads to consistency in life and thought, that ability to inspire demanded of every good educator.
 In the second place, we need to recognize that truth itself will always lie beyond our grasp. We can seek it and draw near to it, but we cannot completely possess it; or put better, truth possesses us and inspires us. In intellectual and educational activity the virtue of humility is also indispensable, since it protects us from the pride, which bars the way to truth. We must not draw students to ourselves, but set them on the path toward the truth, which we seek together. The Lord will help you in this, for he asks you to be plain and effective like salt, or like the lamp which quietly lights the room (cf. Mt 5:13).
 All these things, finally, remind us to keep our gaze fixed on Christ, whose face radiates the Truth which enlightens us. Christ is also the Way, which leads to lasting fulfillment; he walks constantly at our side and sustains us with his love. Rooted in him, you will prove good guides to our young people. With this confidence I invoke upon you the protection of the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom. May she help you to cooperate with her Son by living a life which is personally satisfying and which brings forth rich fruits of knowledge and faith for your students. Thank you very much.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pontiff's Address to Young Women Religious
 "We Need That Radicalism to Which Your Consecration ... Bears Witness"?
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 19, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon addressing a gathering of young women religious at the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Madrid. The Pope is in the Spanish capital to preside at the 26th World Youth Day, which is under way through Sunday.
 * * *
 Dear Young Women Religious,
 As part of the World Youth Day which we are celebrating in Madrid, I am delighted to have this opportunity to meet you who have consecrated your youth to the Lord, and I thank you for the kind greeting you have given me. I also thank the Archbishop of Madrid, who arranged for this meeting in the evocative setting of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Its famous library preserves important editions of the sacred Scriptures and the monastic rules of various religious families, yet your own lives of fidelity to the calling you have received is itself a precious means of preserving the word of the Lord, which resounds in your various spiritual traditions.
 Dear Sisters, every charism is an evangelical word which the Holy Spirit recalls to the Church’s memory (cf. Jn 14:26). It is not by accident that consecrated life "is born from hearing the word of God and embracing the Gospel as its rule of life. A life devoted to following Christ in his chastity, poverty and obedience becomes a living ‘exegesis’ of God’s word… Every charism and every rule springs from it and seeks to be an expression of it, thus opening up new pathways of Christian living marked by the radicalism of the Gospel" (Verbum Domini, 83).
 This Gospel radicalism means being "rooted and built up in Christ, and firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). In the consecrated life, this means going to the very root of the love of Jesus Christ with an undivided heart, putting nothing ahead of this love (cf. SAINT BENEDICT, Rule, IV, 21) and being completely devoted to him, the Bridegroom, as were the Saints, like Rose of Lima and Rafael Arnáiz, the young patrons of this World Youth Day. Your lives must testify to the personal encounter with Christ which has nourished your consecration, and to all the transforming power of that encounter. This is all the more important today when "we see a certain ‘eclipse of God’ taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity" (Message for the 2011 World Youth Day, 1). In a world of relativism and mediocrity, we need that radicalism to which your consecration, as a way of belonging to the God who is loved above all things, bears witness.
 This Gospel radicalism proper to the consecrated life finds expression in filial communion with the Church, the home of the children of God, built by Christ: communion with her Pastors who set forth in the Lord’s name the deposit of faith received from the apostles, the ecclesial Magisterium and the Christian tradition; communion with your own religious families as you gratefully preserve their authentic spiritual patrimony while valuing other charisms; and communion with other members of the Church, such as the laity, who are called to make their own specific calling a testimony to the one Gospel of the Lord.
 Finally, Gospel radicalism finds expression in the mission God has chosen to entrust to us: from the contemplative life, which welcomes into its cloisters the word of God in eloquent silence and adores his beauty in the solitude which he alone fills, to the different paths of the apostolic life, in whose furrows the seed of the Gospel bears fruit in the education of children and young people, the care of the sick and elderly, the pastoral care of families, commitment to respect for life, witness to the truth and the proclamation of peace and charity, mission work and the new evangelization, and so many other sectors of the Church’s apostolate.
 Dear Sisters, this is the witness of holiness to which God is calling you, as you follow Jesus Christ closely and unconditionally in consecration, communion and mission. The Church needs your youthful fidelity, rooted and built up in Christ. Thank you for your generous, total and perpetual "yes" to the call of the Loved One. I pray that the Virgin Mary may sustain and accompany your consecrated youth, with the lively desire that it will challenge, nourish and illumine all young people.
 With these sentiments, I ask God to repay abundantly the generous contribution which consecrated life has made to this World Youth Day. In his name, and with great gratitude, I give you my affectionate blessing.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Cardinal Rouco's Words of Welcome to Pontiff
 "May These Next Few Days Together Be Filled With Happiness"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 18, 2011 ( Here is the greeting that Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, gave today to Benedict XVI at the welcome ceremony with youth, held in Madrid's Cibeles Square.
 * * *
 Holy Father,
 You have arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain, to preside over the 26th World Youth Day. Young people of the five continents have welcomed you at the historical Puerta de Alcala after which the Mayor has given you the keys to this City, an open hearted and noble city where no one is a stranger, but a brother. We find ourselves in the Plaza de Cibeles, the most emblematic and popular of all Madrid plazas, and today it welcomes the festive presence of this immense multitude of young people who have come from every corner of the world and receive you with joyful and boundless enthusiasm as the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Many arrived in Madrid along with a great number of their Spanish companions after a fruitful pilgrimage organised by the dioceses, cities and towns of Spain. Here they are, dear Holy Father, to live this encounter with you, like children and brothers and sisters of the same Church: the new city of God, which knows no borders!
 They have made this great project their own, this spiritual and apostolic objective, which the Father and Shepherd of the Universal Church has proposed to them: that their lives are planted and built up in Christ; that they remain firm in the faith, the faith in Jesus Christ, their Brother, their Friend, their Lord, their Saviour! Their blessed and radiant joy is easily explainable, beloved Holy Father. The successor of Peter, "the Vicar of Christ and visible Head of the whole Church, the house of the living God" (LG. 18) has come to this gathering to strengthen them in that faith which opens their hearts to the grace and love of Jesus Christ, which has the ability to change their lives forever and fill them with joy, a contagious joy capable of transforming not only their own lives, but also the lives of their families and home towns. The Pope calls to them to be "witnesses of joy" and that they will be. Spain, this old nation and community of towns whose history began with the word and embrace of Apostolic Preaching, is experiencing it once again. You can see that these young people, who since last Tuesday have filled the streets and plazas of Madrid, and the week before those of many places in Spain, have a deep sense of their purpose in life, because they are filled with the truth, because they are filled with Christ.
 Madrid, dear Holy Father, its' Diocese, its' member Dioceses and all the Dioceses of Spain, welcome you with deep gratitude, feeling and sharing the same ardour of love for the Pope that these young people are feeling and demonstrating. Your visit is a visit of exceptional value. With you comes the "Young Church," accompanied by her diocesan bishops, priests, and consecrated members in numbers representative of a truly universal "catholic" Church! Christ Resurrected is passing by!
 And so with the Church of Spain, the society and authorities of Spain, and most importantly, the immense majority of Spaniards receive and greet you with the reverent and noble feelings appropriate to a people with a 2000 year old Christian tradition and are exceedingly generous and willing to do whatever necessary for the success of this World Youth Day! The people of Spain!
 Welcome dear Holy Father! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Madrid and the whole of Spain, the Church and all society, welcome you with the doors of their homes and their hearts wide open!
 The Prayers of our contemplative communities as well as a countless number of dear souls will accompany us these next few days with a tremendous sense of love for the Pope, the Church and her young people. We entrust ourselves to the maternal care of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Almudena, Patron Saint of Madrid!
 May these next few days together be filled with happiness, dear Holy Father! Blessed be the Risen Christ!

Papal Address Cut Off by the Rain
 Benedict XVI Thanks Youth for Their Joy, Resistance
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI had prepared to give at today's World Youth Day prayer vigil. A sudden rainstorm and high winds interrupted the Holy Father after just the first two paragraphs.
 * * *
 Dear Young Friends,
 I greet all of you, especially the young people who have asked me their questions, and I thank them for the sincerity with which they set forth their concerns, that express the longing which all of you have to achieve something great in life, something which can bring you fulfilment and happiness.
 How can a young person be true to the faith and yet continue to aspire to high ideals in today’s society? In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus gives us an answer to this urgent question: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love" (Jn 15:9).
 Yes, dear friends, God loves us. This is the great truth of our life; it is what makes everything else meaningful. We are not the product of blind chance or absurdity; instead our life originates as part of a loving plan of God. To abide in his love, then, means living a life rooted in faith, since faith is more than the mere acceptance of certain abstract truths: it is an intimate relationship with Christ, who enables us to open our hearts to this mystery of love and to live as men and women conscious of being loved by God.
 If you abide in the love of Christ, rooted in the faith, you will encounter, even amid setbacks and suffering, the source of true happiness and joy. Faith does not run counter to your highest ideals; on the contrary, it elevates and perfects those ideals. Dear young people, do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.
 Nowadays, although the dominant culture of relativism all around us has given up on the search for truth, even if it is the highest aspiration of the human spirit, we need to speak with courage and humility of the universal significance of Christ as the Saviour of humanity and the source of hope for our lives. He who took upon himself our afflictions, is well acquainted with the mystery of human suffering and manifests his loving presence in those who suffer. They in their turn, united to the passion of Christ, share closely in his work of redemption. Furthermore, our disinterested attention towards the sick and the forgotten will always be a humble and warm testimony of God’s compassionate regard.
 Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.
 During this prayer vigil, I urge you to ask God to help you find your vocation in society and in the Church, and to persevere in that vocation with joy and fidelity. It is a good thing to open our hearts to Christ’s call and to follow with courage and generosity the path he maps out for us.
 The Lord calls many people to marriage, in which a man and a woman, in becoming one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24), find fulfilment in a profound life of communion. It is a prospect that is both bright and demanding. It is a project for true love which is daily renewed and deepened by sharing joys and sorrows, one marked by complete self-giving. For this reason, to acknowledge the beauty and goodness of marriage is to realize that only a setting of fidelity and indissolubility, along with openness to God’s gift of life, is adequate to the grandeur and dignity of marital love.
 Christ calls others to follow him more closely in the priesthood or in consecrated life. It is hard to put into words the happiness you feel when you know that Jesus seeks you, trusts in you, and with his unmistakable voice also says to you: "Follow me!" (cf. Mk 2:14).
 Dear young people, if you wish to discover and to live faithfully the form of life to which the Lord is calling each of you, you must remain in his love as his friends. And how do we preserve friendship except through frequent contact, conversation, being together in good times and bad? Saint Teresa of Jesus used to say that prayer is just such "friendly contact, often spending time alone with the one who we know loves us" (cf. Autobiography, 8).
 And so I now ask you to "abide" in the adoration of Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. I ask you to enter into conversation with him, to bring before him your questions and to listen to his voice. Dear friends, I pray for you with all my heart. And I ask you to pray for me. Tonight let us ask the Lord to grant that, attracted by the beauty of his love, we may always live faithfully as his disciples. Amen.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Greetings to Youth at Prayer Vigil
 "Christ Alone Can Respond to Your Aspirations"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 - Here is the Vatican translation of the greetings Benedict XVI gave in various languages at today's World Youth Day prayer vigil. A sudden rainstorm and high winds interrupted the Holy Father's discourse, and after thanking the youth for their joy and strength, he concluded with the following greetings.
 * * *
 Dear young French-speakers, be proud of the gift of faith which you have received, as it will illumine your life at every moment. Draw strength from the faith of your neighbours, from the faith of the Church! Through faith we are grounded in Christ. Gather with others to deepen it, be faithful to the celebration of the Eucharist, the mystery of faith par excellence. Christ alone can respond to your aspirations. Let yourselves be seized by God, so that your presence in the Church will give her new life!
 Dear young people, in these moments of silence before the Blessed Sacrament, let us raise our minds and hearts to Jesus Christ, the Lord of our lives and of the future. May he pour out his Spirit upon us and upon the whole Church, that we may be a beacon of freedom, reconciliation and peace for the whole world.
 Dear young Christians from the German-speaking countries! Deep in our hearts we yearn for what is grand and beautiful in life. Do not let your desires and aspirations dissipate, but ground them in Jesus Christ. He himself is the sure foundation, the point of reference, for building up your life.
 I now turn to the Italian-speaking young people. Dear friends, this vigil will remain as an unforgettable experience in your lives. Guard the flame which God has lit in your hearts tonight. Never let it go out, renew it each day, share it with your contemporaries who live in darkness and who are seeking a light for their way. Thank you! Until tomorrow morning!
 My dear friends, I invite each of you to enter into a personal dialogue with Christ, sharing with him your hesitations and above all listening to his voice. The Lord is here and he is calling you! Young friends, it is good to hear within us the word of Jesus and to follow in his footsteps. Ask the Lord to help you to discover your vocation in life and in the Church, and to persevere in it with joy and fidelity, knowing that he never abandons you or betrays you! He remains with us until the end of the world.
 Dear young friends from Poland! This prayer vigil is filled with the presence of Christ. Grounded in his love, draw near to him with the flame of your faith. He will fill your hearts with his life. Build your lives on Christ and on his Gospel. I willingly bless all of you.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Address to Youth With Illnesses and Disabilities
 "The Lives of These Young People Surely Touch Human Hearts"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon his visit to the Foundation of Saint Joseph's Institute.
 * * *
 Your Eminence,
 Dear Brother Bishops,
 Dear Priests and Religious of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God,
 Distinguished Authorities,
 Dear Young People, Family Members and Volunteers,
 I thank you most sincerely for your kind greeting and heartfelt welcome.
 This evening, just before the Prayer Vigil with the young people from throughout the world gathered in Madrid for this World Youth Day, we have this chance to spend time together as a way of showing the Pope’s closeness and esteem for each of you, for your families and for all those who help and care for you in this Foundation of Saint Joseph's Institute.
 Youth, as I have said more than once, is the age when life discloses itself to us with all its rich possibilities, inspiring us to seek the lofty goals which give it meaning. So when suffering appears on the horizon of a young life, we are shaken; perhaps we ask ourselves: "Can life still be something grand, even when suffering unexpectedly enters it?" In my Encyclical on Christian Hope, I observed that "the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer … A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through 'com-passion' is a cruel and inhuman society" (Spe Salvi, 38). These words reflect a long tradition of humanity which arises from Christ's own self-offering on the Cross for us and for our redemption. Jesus and, in his footsteps, his Sorrowful Mother and the saints, are witnesses who shows us how to experience the tragedy of suffering for our own good and for the salvation of the world.
 These witnesses speak to us, first and foremost, of the dignity of all human life, created in the image of God. No suffering can efface this divine image imprinted in the depths of our humanity. But there is more: because the Son of God wanted freely to embrace suffering and death, we are also capable of seeing God's image in the face of those who suffer. This preferential love of the Lord for the suffering helps us to see others more clearly and to give them, above and beyond their material demands, the look of love which they need. But this can only happen as the fruit of a personal encounter with Christ. You yourselves – as religious, family members, health care professionals and volunteers who daily live and work with these young people – know this well. Your lives and your committed service proclaim the greatness to which every human being is called: to show compassion and loving concern to the suffering, just as God himself did. In your noble work we hear an echo of the words found in the Gospel: "just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40).
 At the same time, you are also witnesses of the immense goodness which the lives of these young people represent for those who love them, and for humanity as a whole. In a mysterious yet real way, their presence awakens in our often hardened hearts a tenderness which opens us to salvation. The lives of these young people surely touch human hearts and for that reason we are grateful to the Lord for having known them.
 Dear friends, our society, which all too often questions the inestimable value of life, of every life, needs you: in a decisive way you help to build the civilization of love. What is more, you play a leading role in that civilization. As sons and daughters of the Church, you offer the Lord your lives, with all their ups and downs, cooperating with him and somehow becoming "part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race" (Spe Salvi, 40).
 With great affection, and through the intercession of Saint Joseph, Saint John of God and Saint Benito Menni, I commend you to God our Lord: may he be your strength and your reward. As a pledge of his love, I cordially impart to you, and to your families and friends, my Apostolic Blessing.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Address to WYD Organizers
 "Good Things Bring Us Together"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the organizing committee of the 26th World Youth Day.
 * * *
 Dear Friends,
 I am pleased to welcome you to the Apostolic Nunciature, and to thank you warmly for all that you have done for the organization of this World Youth Day.
 I know very well that, from the moment that it was made public that the Archdiocese of Madrid had been chosen as the centre for this initiative, His Eminence Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela launched the work of the Local Organizing Committee in which all those responsible for the different areas involved in an undertaking of this size worked together, coordinated by Bishop César Augusto Franco Martínez, with a deep sense of ecclesial belonging and an extraordinary affection for the Vicar of Christ. Only love for the Church and zeal to evangelize young people can explain this generous commitment of time and energy, which will bear much apostolic fruit. Over the months you have offered your best to the service of the Church’s mission. May God reward you for it a hundredfold, and not just you but your families and your institutions which with self-sacrifice have supported your dedication and care. Since Jesus tells us that not even a cup of water given in his name will go without reward, how much more will be rewarded the daily and unceasing contribution to the organization of a church event of such importance as the one we are now celebrating! Thank you to each one of you.
 Similarly, I wish to offer my thanks to the members of the Mixed Commission formed by the Archdiocese of Madrid and the national Government offices, the Community of Madrid and the City Hall which, since the beginning of this World Youth Day, was set up with its gaze fixed upon the hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims coming to Madrid, a city open, beautiful and welcoming. Certainly, without this diligent cooperation, it would not have been possible to realize an event of such complexity and importance. In this regard, I know that many groups placed themselves at the disposal of the Local Organizing Committee, sparing no effort and in an atmosphere of friendly cooperation, which is a credit to this noble nation and to the well-known spirit of hospitality of the Spanish people.
 The effectiveness of the Commission shows that cooperation between the Church and local authorities is possible, and not only when they work together on an initiative of such great significance, like the present one, proving the principle that good things bring us together. For this reason, I would like to express to the representatives of the various institutions that have worked boldly for the success of this World Day, my warm and heartfelt thanks in the name of the Church and of the young people who are now enjoying your welcome and diligence.
 Upon all of you, as well as upon your families and institutions, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings. Thank you very much.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Homily at Mass With Seminarians
 "We Have to Be Saints"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today when he celebrated Mass with seminarians during the context of the 26th World Youth Day, under way in Madrid.
 * * *
 Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid,
 Dear Brother Bishops,
 Dear Priests and Religious,
 Dear Rectors and Formators,
 Dear Seminarians,
 Dear Friends,
 I am very pleased to celebrate Holy Mass with you who aspire to be Christ’s priests for the service of the Church and of man, and I thank you for the kind words with which you welcomed me. Today, this holy cathedral church of Santa María La Real de la Almudena is like a great Upper Room, where the Lord greatly desires to celebrate the Passover with you who wish one day to preside in his name at the mysteries of salvation. Looking at you, I again see proof of how Christ continues to call young disciples and to make them his apostles, thus keeping alive the mission of the Church and the offer of the Gospel to the world. As seminarians you are on the path towards a sacred goal: to continue the mission which Christ received from the Father. Called by him, you have followed his voice and, attracted by his loving gaze, you now advance towards the sacred ministry. Fix your eyes upon him who through his incarnation is the supreme revelation of God to the world and who through his resurrection faithfully fulfills his promise. Give thanks to him for this sign of favour in which he holds each one of you.
 The first reading which we heard shows us Christ as the new and eternal priest who made of himself a perfect offering. The response to the psalm may be aptly applied to him since, at his coming into the world, he said to the Father, "Here I am to do your will" (cf. Ps 39:8). He tried to please him in all things: in his words and actions, along the way or welcoming sinners. His life was one of service and his longing was a constant prayer, placing himself in the name of all before the Father as the first-born son of many brothers and sisters. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews states that, by a single offering, he brought to perfection for all time those of us who are called to share his sonship (cf. Heb10:14).
 The Eucharist, whose institution is mentioned in the Gospel just proclaimed (cf. Lk 22:14-20), is the real expression of that unconditional offering of Jesus for all, even for those who betrayed him. It was the offering of his body and blood for the life of mankind and for the forgiveness of sins. His blood, a sign of life, was given to us by God as a covenant, so that we might apply the force of his life wherever death reigns due to our sins, and thus destroy it. Christ’s body broken and his blood outpoured – the surrender of his freedom – became through these Eucharistic signs the new source of mankind’s redeemed freedom. In Christ, we have the promise of definitive redemption and the certain hope of future blessings. Through Christ we know that we are not walking towards the abyss, the silence of nothingness or death, but are rather pilgrims on the way to a promised land, on the way to him who is our end and our beginning.
 Dear friends, you are preparing yourselves to become apostles with Christ and like Christ, and to accompany your fellow men and women along their journey as companions and servants. How should you behave during these years of preparation? First of all, they should be years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church. A Church which is community and institution, family and mission, the creation of Christ through his Holy Spirit, as well as the result of those of us who shape it through our holiness and our sins. God, who does not hesitate to make of the poor and of sinners his friends and instruments for the redemption of the human race, willed it so. The holiness of the Church is above all the objective holiness of the very person of Christ, of his Gospel and his sacraments, the holiness of that power from on high which enlivens and impels it. We have to be saints so as not to create a contradiction between the sign that we are and the reality that we wish to signify.
 Meditate well upon this mystery of the Church, living the years of your formation in deep joy, humbly, clear-mindedly and with radical fidelity to the Gospel, in an affectionate relation to the time spent and the people among whom you live. No one chooses the place or the people to whom he is sent, and every time has its own challenges; but in every age God gives the right grace to face and overcome those challenges with love and realism. That is why, no matter the circumstances in which he finds and however difficult they may be, the priest must grow in all kinds of good works, keeping alive within him the words spoken on his Ordination day, by which he was exhorted to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.
 To be modeled on Christ, dear seminarians, is to be identified ever more closely with him who, for our sake, became servant, priest and victim. To be modeled on him is in fact the task upon which the priest spends his entire life. We already know that it is beyond us and we will not fully succeed but, as St Paul says, we run towards the goal, hoping to reach it (cf. Phil 3:12-14).
 That said, Christ the High Priest is also the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep, even giving his life for them (cf. Jn 10:11). In order to liken yourselves to the Lord in this as well, your heart must mature while in seminary, remaining completely open to the Master. This openness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, inspires the decision to live in celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and, leaving aside the world’s goods, live in austerity of life and sincere obedience, without pretence.
 Ask him to let you imitate him in his perfect charity towards all, so that you do not shun the excluded and sinners, but help them convert and return to the right path. Ask him to teach you how to be close to the sick and the poor in simplicity and generosity. Face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity, but rather as a beautiful way of living our human life in gratuitousness and service, as witnesses of God made man, messengers of the supreme dignity of the human person and therefore its unconditional defenders. Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives. You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice.
 Under the guidance of your formators, open your hearts to the light of the Lord, to see if this path which demands courage and authenticity is for you. Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts.
 With this confidence, learn from him who described himself as meek and humble of heart, leaving behind all earthly desire for his sake so that, rather than pursuing your own good, you build up your brothers and sisters by the way you live, as did the patron saint of the diocesan clergy of Spain, St John of Avila. Moved by his example, look above all to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests. She will know how to mould your hearts according to the model of Christ, her divine Son, and she will teach you how to treasure for ever all that he gained on Calvary for the salvation of the world. Amen.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
On Life After World Youth Day
 "Help the Church Grow ... in the Hearts of Many"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 21, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before and after reciting the midday Angelus with the youth attending the 2011 World Youth Day, held at Cuatro Vientos Air Base in Madrid.
 * * *
 Dear Friends,
 You are now about to go back home. Your friends will want to know how you have changed after being in this lovely city with the Pope and with hundreds of thousands of other young people from around the world. What are you going to tell them? I invite you to give a bold witness of Christian living to them. In this way you will give birth to new Christians and will help the Church grow strongly in the hearts of many others.
 During these days, how often I have thought of the young people at home who are waiting for your return! Take my affectionate greetings to them, to those less fortunate, to your families and to the Christian communities that you come from.
 Let me also express my gratitude to the Bishops and priests who are present in such great numbers at this Day. To them all I extend my deepest thanks, encouraging them to continue to work pastorally among young people with enthusiasm and dedication.
 [Spanish] I greet the Archbishop of the Forces affectionately and I warmly thank the Spanish Air Force, which very generously permitted Cuatro Vientos Air Base on this, the centenary of the foundation of the Spanish Air Force. I place all Spanish Air Force personnel and their families under the maternal protection of Our Lady of Loreto.
 In this context, I recall that yesterday marked the third anniversary of the grave accident at Barajas Airport which caused many deaths and injuries, and I express my spiritual closeness and my deep affection for all those touched by that unfortunate event, and well as for the families of the victims, whose souls we commend to the mercy of God.
 I am pleased now to announce that the next World Youth Day will be held in 2013, in Rio de Janeiro. Even now, let us ask the Lord to assist all those who will organize it, and to ease the journey there of young people from all over the world, so that they will be able to join me in that beautiful city of Brazil.
 Dear friends, before we say good-bye, and while the young people of Spain pass on the World Youth Day cross to the young people of Brazil, as Successor of Peter I entrust all of you present with this task: make the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ known to the whole world! He wants you to be the apostles of the twenty-first century and the messengers of his joy. Do not let him down! Thank you very much.
 [French] My dear young people of the French-speaking world, today Christ asks you to be rooted in him and with him, to build your lives upon him who is our rock. He sends you out to be his witnesses, courageous and without anxiety, authentic and credible! Do not be afraid to be Catholic, and to be witnesses to those around you in simplicity and sincerity! Let the Church find in you and in your youthfulness joyful missionaries of the Good News of salvation!
 [English] I greet all the English-speaking young people present here today! As you return home, take back with you the good news of Christ’s love which we have experienced in these unforgettable days. Fix your eyes upon him, deepen your knowledge of the Gospel and bring forth abundant fruit! God bless all of you until we meet again!
 [German] My dear friends! Faith is not a theory. To believe is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus and to live in friendship with him in fellowship with others, in the communion of the Church. Entrust the whole of your lives to Christ and bring your friends to find their way to the source of life, to God. May the Lord make you happy and joy-filled witnesses of his love.
 [Italian] My dear young Italians! Greetings to all of you. The Eucharist that we have celebrated is the risen Christ present and living in our midst: through him, your lives are rooted and built upon Christ, strong in faith. With this confidence, depart from Madrid and tell everyone what you have seen and heard. Respond with joy to the Lord’s call, follow him and remain always united to him: you will bear much fruit!
 [Portuguese] Dear Portuguese-speaking young people and friends, you have met Jesus Christ! You will be swimming against the tide in a society with a relativistic culture which wishes neither to seek nor hold on to the truth. But it was for this moment in history, with its great challenges and opportunities, that the Lord sent you, so that, through your faith, the Good News of Jesus might continue to resound throughout the earth. I hope to see you again in two years’ time at the nest World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Till then, let us pray for each other, witnessing to the joy that brings forth life, rooted in and built upon Christ. Until we meet again, my dear young people! God bless you all!
 [Polish] Dear young Poles, strong in the faith, rooted in Christ! May the gifts you have received from God during these days bear in you abundant fruit. Be his witnesses. Take to others the message of the Gospel. With your prayers and example of life, help Europe to rediscover its Christian roots.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Farewell Address to Spain
 "Spread Throughout the World the Profound and Joyful Experience of Faith"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 21, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the departure ceremony of the Pope's visit to Spain, held at the International Airport of Madrid Barajas. The Holy Father was in the nation's capital to preside at the 26th World Youth Day.
 * * *
 Your Majesties,
 Distinguished National, Autonomous Regional and Local Authorities,
 Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference,
 Your Eminences and Dear Brother Bishops,
 Dear Friends,
 The time has come for us to say good-bye. These days spent in Madrid, in the company of so many young people from Spain and from throughout the world, will remain deeply etched in my mind and heart.
 Your Majesty, the Pope felt at home in Spain! And the young people who were the heart of this World Youth Day found a warm welcome here and in the many cities and towns of the country, which they were able to visit in the days before these celebrations.
 I thank Your Majesty for your gracious words and for your presence at my arrival in Spain and now at my departure. I thank the national, autonomous regional and local authorities for the helpfulness and understanding which they showed before this international event. I also thank the thousands of volunteers who ensured the orderly unfolding of the many activities of this meeting: the various literary, musical, cultural and religious events of the Festival joven, the catecheses given by the Bishops and the main events in the presence of the Successor of Peter. I thank the police and security forces, and all those who helped by providing a wide variety of services: from the music and the liturgy to the details of transportation, health care and meals.
 Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul. In these days, it once more made this clear, revealing its technical and human resources in the service of an undertaking of immense consequence and promise: that of helping young people to become more deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
 A particular word of gratitude is due to the organizers of World Youth Day: to the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and all the personnel of that Office, to the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, his Auxiliary Bishops and the whole Archdiocese, and in particular to the General Coordinator, Monsignor César Augusto Franco Martinez, and the many generous members of his staff. The Bishops worked generously and diligently in their Dioceses to prepare for the celebrations, together with their priests, consecrated persons and the lay faithful. To all I express my gratitude and I pray that the Lord will bless your apostolic labors.
 Nor can I fail to offer heartfelt thanks to the young people for having come to the World Youth Day and for their joyful, enthusiastic and intense presence. To them I say thank you, and I congratulate you for the witness which you gave in Madrid and in the other cities of Spain in which you stayed. Now I ask you to spread throughout the world the profound and joyful experience of faith which you had here in this noble country. Share your joy especially with those who would have liked to come but were unable to do so for various reasons, with all those who were praying for you and with all those whose hearts were touched by these celebrations. By your closeness and your witness, help your friends to discover that loving Christ means living life to the full.
 I leave Spain very happy and grateful to everyone. But above all I am grateful to God, our Lord, who allowed me to celebrate these days so filled with enthusiasm and grace, so charged with dynamism and hope. The feast of faith which we have shared enables us to look forward with great confidence in Providence, which guides the Church across the seas of history. That is why she continues to be young and full of life, even as she confronts challenging situations.
 This is the work of the Holy Spirit, who makes Jesus Christ present in the hearts of young people in every age and shows them the grandeur of the divine vocation given to every man and woman. We were also able to see how the grace of Christ tears down the walls and overcomes the barriers which sin erects between peoples and generations, in order to make all mankind a single family which acknowledges its one Father and which cultivates, by work and respect, all that he has given us in creation.
 Young people readily respond when one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of humanity. Now those young people are returning home as missionaries of the Gospel, “rooted and built up in Christ, and firm in the faith”, and they will need to be helped on their way. So I urge Bishops, priests, Religious and Christian educators in particular, to care for those young people who want to respond enthusiastically to the Lord’s call. There is no reason to lose heart in the face of the various obstacles we encounter in some countries. The yearning for God which the Creator has placed in the hearts of young people is more powerful than all of these, as is the power from on high which gives divine strength to those who follow the Master and who seek in him nourishment for life. Do not be afraid to present to young people the message of Jesus Christ in all its integrity, and to invite them to celebrate the sacraments by which he gives us a share in his own life.
 Your Majesty, before returning to Rome, I would like to assure the people of Spain of my constant prayers, especially for married couples and families who are facing various kinds of difficulties, the needy and the infirm, the elderly and children, as well as those who have no work. I pray in particular of the young people of Spain. I am sure that they will contribute the best they have to offer through their faith in Christ, so that this great country can face the challenges of the present hour and can continue along the paths of peace, solidarity, justice and freedom. Along with these intentions, I entrust the sons and daughters of this noble land to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our heavenly Mother, and to them all I willingly impart my blessing. May the joy of the Lord always fill your hearts. Thank you.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pontiff's Address to Youth Day Volunteers
 "Your Life Will Achieve Fulfillment in Ways You Cannot Imagine"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 21, 2011 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon meeting with World Youth Day Volunteers at Pavilion 9 of the New Fair of Madrid.
 * * *
 Dear Volunteers,
 As the events of this unforgettable World Youth Day draw to a close, I wanted to come here, before my return to Rome, to thank you personally for all your invaluable help. It is both a matter of justice and a heartfelt duty. A matter of justice because, thanks to your cooperation, the young pilgrims enjoyed a warm welcome and were assisted in their every need. Your service gave World Youth Day a face of kindness, friendship and neighborly concern.
 My gratitude is also a heartfelt duty, not only because you were so attentive to the pilgrims, but also to the Pope! At every event in which I took part, you were there: some were highly visible, while others stayed in the background, helping to ensure that everything took place in an orderly fashion. I also want to mention all the effort that went into preparing for these days. All the sacrifices, all the love. Everybody did his or her best, by work and prayer, to weave, stitch by stitch, the magnificent, colourful tapestry of this World Youth Day. Many thanks for your dedicated service. I am grateful for this great sign of your love.
 Many of you had to give up participating directly in the events, because you were engaged in the work of organization. But this sacrifice was itself a beautiful and evangelical way to take part in the celebrations: you gave yourselves to others, as Jesus tells us to do. In a real way sense you brought to life the Lord’s words: “Whoever wants to be first must be the last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). I am certain that your experience as volunteers has enriched all of you in your Christian life, which in the end is a service to love. The Lord will turn all the weariness, the worries and the burdens of these days into a source of growth in the Christian virtues: patience, meekness, joy in self-giving and eagerness to do God’s will. To love means to serve, and service increases love. For me, this is one of the finest fruits of your contribution to World Youth Day. But you will not be the only ones who reap this harvest: the whole Church, as a mystery of communion, is enriched by the contribution of each of her members.
 As you now go back to your everyday lives, I ask you to treasure this joy-filled experience in your hearts and to grow each day in giving yourselves to God and to others. Perhaps many of you felt a very simple question forming in your hearts, faintly or forcefully as the case may be: What is God asking me to do? What is his plan for my life? Is Christ asking me to follow him more closely? Should I not spend my whole life in the mission to proclaim to the world the greatness of his love through the priesthood, or the consecrated life, or marriage? If this question has surfaced, let the Lord be your guide and become volunteers in the service of the One who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mk10:45). Your life will achieve fulfillment in ways you cannot imagine.
 Perhaps some of you are thinking: the Pope came to thank us and here he is asking us for something more! You are right. But that is the mission of the Pope, the Successor of Peter. After all, Peter, in his First Letter, reminds Christians that they were ransomed at a great price: that of the blood of Christ (cf. 1 Pet 1:18-19). Those who look at their lives from this perspective know that Christ’s love can only be met with love. That is what the Pope is asking you to do in this farewell: to respond in love to the One who for love gave himself up for us. Once again, I thank all of you. May God be ever at your side!
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Homily at Closing Youth Day Mass
 "The World Needs the Witness of Your Faith, It Surely Needs God"
 MADRID, Spain, AUG. 21, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the words Benedict XVI delivered today before and during the closing Mass of the 2011 World Youth Day, held at Cuatro Vientos Air Base in Madrid.
 * * *
 [Words Before Mass]
 Dear Young Friends:
 I have been thinking a lot about you during this time in which we have been separated. I hope you have been able to get some sleep in spite of the weather. I am sure that since dawn you have raised up your eyes more than once, and not only your eyes but above all your hearts, turning this occasion into prayer. God turns all things into good. With this confidence and trusting in the Lord who never abandons us, let us begin our Eucharistic celebration, full of enthusiasm and strong in our faith.
 * * *
 Dear Young People,
 In this celebration of the Eucharist we have reached the high point of this World Youth Day. Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy. I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you. Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15).
 He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfillment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father. For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received. Certainly, there are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better. They realize that he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns. But who is he really? How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?
 The Gospel we have just heard (cf. Mt 16:13-20) suggests two different ways of knowing Christ. The first is an impersonal knowledge, one based on current opinion. When Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, the disciples answer: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. In other words, Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him. Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds with what is the first confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth.
 Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”. Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life. Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation. So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard. Faith in Christ and discipleship are strictly interconnected.
 And, since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus. Peter and the other disciples also had to grow in this way, until their encounter with the Risen Lord opened their eyes to the fullness of faith.
 Dear young people, today Christ is asking you the same question which he asked the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Respond to him with generosity and courage, as befits young hearts like your own. Say to him: “Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.
 Jesus’ responds to Peter’s confession by speaking of the Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”. What do these words mean? Jesus builds the Church on the rock of the faith of Peter, who confesses that Christ is God.
 The Church, then, is not simply a human institution, like any other. Rather, she is closely joined to God. Christ himself speaks of her as “his” Church. Christ cannot be separated from the Church any more than the head can be separated from the body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). The Church does not draw her life from herself, but from the Lord.
 Dear young friends, as the Successor of Peter, let me urge you to strengthen this faith which has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles. Make Christ, the Son of God, the centre of your life. But let me also remind you that following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so “on his own”, or to approach the life of faith with that kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus.
 Having faith means drawing support from the faith of your brothers and sisters, even as your own faith serves as a support for the faith of others. I ask you, dear friends, to love the Church which brought you to birth in the faith, which helped you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and which led you to discover the beauty of his love. Growing in friendship with Christ necessarily means recognizing the importance of joyful participation in the life of your parishes, communities and movements, as well as the celebration of Sunday Mass, frequent reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and the cultivation of personal prayer and meditation on God’s word.
 Friendship with Jesus will also lead you to bear witness to the faith wherever you are, even when it meets with rejection or indifference. We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith. The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God. I think that the presence here of so many young people, coming from all over the world, is a wonderful proof of the fruitfulness of Christ’s command to the Church: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). You too have been given the extraordinary task of being disciples and missionaries of Christ in other lands and countries filled with young people who are looking for something greater and, because their heart tells them that more authentic values do exist, they do not let themselves be seduced by the empty promises of a lifestyle which has no room for God.
 Dear young people, I pray for you with heartfelt affection. I commend all of you to the Virgin Mary and I ask her to accompany you always by her maternal intercession and to teach you how to remain faithful to God’s word. I ask you to pray for the Pope, so that, as the Successor of Peter, he may always confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. May all of us in the Church, pastors and faithful alike, draw closer to the Lord each day. May we grow in holiness of life and be effective witnesses to the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, the Saviour of all mankind and the living source of our hope. Amen.
 © Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
L'Osservatore Director's Reflection on World Youth Day
 "The Search for Truth Involves Everyone and Is Inexhaustible"
 VATICAN CITY, AUG. 22, 2011 - Here is an editorial signed by Gian Maria Vian, director of the Vatican's semi-official daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, that appeared over the weekend. The director offers a commentary on Benedict XVI's words to the youth participating in World Youth Day, which ended Sunday.
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 In the middle of the second day of the papal visit – in a Madrid peacefully invaded by an impressive number of boys and girls from every part of the world – Benedict XVI cited Plato in the Basilica of the Escorial, "Seek truth while you are young, for if you do not, it will later escape your grasp" (Parmenides, 135d). The invitation of the philosopher who lived before Christ, in antiquity evoked by Hebrews and Christians to support biblical revelation, sums up well the sense of the presence of the successor of Peter at World Youth Day.
 As a University professor, for some sixty years Joseph Ratzinger has been used to dialogue with new generations and understands their concerns. This is why the Pope wanted to dedicate a talk to the crucial question of the search for truth when he met young professors – a few days after the World Congress of Catholic Universities in Avila, city of St. Teresa of Jesus, whom Paul VI proclaimed Doctor of the Church: a new event in the history of World Youth Days, as the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid recalled in his greeting.
 The meeting was not a last-minute addition to the papal itinerary, nor was his encounter with young religious women, who welcomed Benedict XVI with enthusiastic and moving affection. In both moments – against the splendid backdrop of the monastery of San Lorenzo of Escorial, created under Philip II, the sovereign who amidst shadows and light perhaps most represents the Spanish Catholic Monarchy – the Pope continued his reasoning with youth, and not only with those who belong to the Church.
 The search for truth involves everyone and is inexhaustible, Benedict XVI explained, in the heart of these days which are revealing themselves to be an event of great magnitude. And the international media are awakening to it, albeit with some exceptions, due to prejudice or a logic which does not respect the most elementary hierarchy of news. Such as a program of the BBC which gave air time to truly minor protests at the expense of information about the Madrid event, and caused even the Guardian to complain.
 But there is news, and many are becoming aware of it. The Pope has been able to unite young people from all over the world in Madrid to encourage them in the faith, in the hopes of also touching the hearts of those who are far away or are far from the Church. In an anxious society that is searching for solid foundations that are certainly not to be found in the apparently dominant mediocrity and utilitarianism. But a sure reference point exists, and it is in the person of Christ, intuited by Plato according to the Fathers of the Church: the only friend who doesn’t disappoint and whom Benedict XVI never tires to indicate.