Monday, March 10, 2008

Pope and Students Pray Together: Benedict XVI Asks Youth to Be Builders of Unity

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2008 ( Benedict XVI prayed the rosary with university students from 10 European and American cities and then entrusted them the duty of being builders of peace and unity.
The Pope thus participated in the 6th European Day for Universities, held Saturday in Paul VI Hall and linked via satellite to Naples, Italy; Bucharest, Romania; Toledo, Spain; Avignon, France; Minsk, Belarus; Washington D.C.; Mexico City; Havana, Cuba; Aparecida, Brazil; and Loja, Ecuador.
The initiative is promoted by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities.
The theme was "Europe and the Americas Together to Build a Civilization of Love" and some 40,000 university students participated.
After a prayer vigil held for the youth, the Holy Father arrived to pray the rosary. He then extended greetings in various languages, both to the young people present in Paul VI Hall and to those following events from the European and American cities.
"Christianity," he said, "is a profound and powerful link between the so-called old continent and what has been called the 'New World.'"
Cultural foundations
Benedict XVI affirmed "the fundamental position that holy Scripture and Christian liturgy occupy in the culture and art of European and American peoples."
"Unfortunately," he added, "so-called western civilization has also partly betrayed its Gospel inspiration. What is needed, then, is an honest and sincere reflection, an examination of conscience. It is necessary to discern between what serves to build the 'civilization of love' according to the design that God revealed in Jesus Christ, and what runs counter to it."
"God calls you to cooperate, alongside your peers all over the world, so that the lifeblood of the Gospel may renew the civilization of these two continents and of humanity entire," the Holy Father stated. "The great European and American cities are becoming more and more cosmopolitan, but they often lack this lifeblood, which is capable of ensuring that differences do not become the cause of division and conflict but of mutual enrichment."
The Pope said the civilization of love would be characterized by "a respectful and peaceful coexistence that finds joy in its differences in the name of a shared vision which Blessed Pope John XXIII founded on the four columns of love, truth, freedom and justice."
He added: "This, dear friends, is the duty I consign to you today: Be disciples of and witnesses to the Gospel, because the Gospel is the good seed of the Kingdom of God, in other words the civilization of love! Be builders of peace and of unity!"
The Holy Father concluded his remarks by identifying one "sign of this Catholic unity" in the initiative of giving each of the students present a CD copy of his encyclical "Spe Salvi" in five languages.

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