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Pope John Paul to be patron of youth

HONG KONG (SE): April 22 this year will mark 30 years since the Cross of the Jubilee of Redemption was first entrusted to young people by Pope John Paul II.

It is called the Cross of Redemption, because it was presented at the first worldwide gathering in St. Peter’s Square at what is now recognised as the first unofficial World Youth Day at the end of the Year of Redemption in 1984.

Pope John Paul said, “What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?”

The pope then entrusted the young people with what is now known as the World Youth Day Cross, to be carried throughout the world as a symbol of the love of Christ for humanity.

The cross subsequently became the standard for World Youth Day and has travelled to six continents, following the pope’s declaration of the quadrennial event during the United Nations International Year of Youth in 1985.

On releasing his first message to the Catholic youth of the world on February 6, in which he presented the themes for the next three World Youth Days, Pope Francis announced that when Pope John Paul is canonised on April 27, he will be declared the patron saint of youth.

Pope Francis said, “The canonisation of John Paul II, to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), will be an event marked by immense joy.”

He added, “He will be the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported. In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to all of you.”

The pope has looked to the Beatitudes for inspiration in choosing the three themes, which is consistent with the stress he has continued to place on what he regards as Jesus’ summation of the ultimate in the Christian way of life.

In the bible, the Beatitudes form what is called the Sermon on the Mount.

“The mountain is regarded as a place where God reveals himself,” the pope explains. “Jesus, by preaching on the mount, reveals himself to be a divine teacher, a new Moses.”

Pope Francis then asks what does he tell us. “He shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness,” he said in answering his own question.

“The Holy Father considers this passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew as the central point of reference in a Christian life. It should be part of everyone’s life plan,” the Vatican Information Service said in a press release on February 6.

In other ways, it is a continuation of the discussion he began with young people at last year’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in July.

Pope Francis calls the challenge to young people presented by the modern world considerable, as it means going against the tide and living as a witness to a revolutionary innovation.

He encourages young Christians to think big, warning them that it is no longer possible to be a Christian and think small, saying that anything that is low cost also tends to be low value, and low cost happiness is no exception.

He notes that courage is what is needed most and that is a commodity that cannot be bought cheap, as the courage to pursue real happiness is a gift only God can give.

He took up the theme for the previous World Youth Day in Brazil; Go and make disciples of all nations, saying that the theme for to be held in Krakow, Poland, To be poor in spirit, is a natural follow on.

He calls being poor in spirit an evangelical poverty and describes it as a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God. He says that it is often the most simple of hearts that spread true joy and, without joy, there is no spreading of the kingdom.

He points out that Jesus chose a way to dispossession and poverty and he added that this has been exemplified in the lives of saints like St. Francis of Assisi.

“Young Christians are therefore called to conversion, to embrace an evangelical lifestyle, one of moderation in which we seek the essential and act in solidarity with the poor,” Pope Francis says.


The pope explains that the poor are both the suffering flesh of Christ, which we are all called to personally touch, and they are also true masters of life, often with much more to offer on the human and spiritual plane than those who enjoy a surfeit of the goods of this world.

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