Pope Improvises Speech, Breaks into Song with Young People

VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2002 (VIS) - In the late afternoon, following lunch with Bulgaria's bishops and the members of his entourage, Pope John Paul went to Plovdiv's cathedral, which has a capacity of 500 people, for a meeting with young people. At the end of the encounter, his last official engagement before returning to Rome, the Pope improvised a speech and broke into song in Polish, in answer to the youths who had sung a hymn to the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in the Pontiff's native language.

In off-the-cuff remarks, the Holy Father said he did not know if he would be able to come again to Bulgaria, but said «I am truly happy to have come to Bulgaria and to have met the young people at the end of my sojourn, ... I am happy because young people look forward, they look to the future.» He said he hoped the future would belong to all Bulgarians, especially young people. «I embrace you all,» he concluded, «and I bless you with affection.»

In his prepared speech to the youth, interrupted countless times by applause, cheers and songs, John Paul II noted that youth was a time, «not just of transition,» but when people «seek the answers to the fundamental questions» of life.

He said he had two messages for them: «Come and See» and «You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world.»

«Come and see,» he said, refers to Jesus' message to His disciples when they asked where He lived. «Draw near to Jesus,» said the Pope, «and strive to 'see' what He has to offer you. ... He is a demanding friend who sets high goals, ... but I ask you: is it better to resign yourself to a life without ideals, to a society marked by inequality, oppression and selfishness, or rather to seek with a generous heart what is true, good and just?»

He urged the youth to «knock down the barriers of superficiality and fear! ... Do not yield to the deceits and easy illusions of the world, which very often turn into tragic delusions. ... With a sense of duty and sacrifice, therefore, take the path of conversion, inner growth, of professional commitment, of voluntary work, of dialogue, of respect for all, never surrendering in the face of difficulties or failures.»

The Holy Father then referred to the theme of the upcoming World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada. He remarked that «Christ alone can be fully called salt of the earth and light of the world, for only He can give flavor, strength and durability to our life which, without Him, would be insipid, feeble and ephemeral. He alone can give us light warmth and joy. But it is He Who wants you to share His mission.»

Vatican Information Service
26. mai 2002

av Webmaster publisert 27.05.2002, sist endret 27.05.2002 - 14:43