The Faith Is a Copernican Revolution
by Pope Francis
Dear Young Friends,
Good evening! First of all, I want to thank you for the testimony you are giving to the world. I always heard it said that the people of Rio didn’t like the cold and rain, but you are showing that your faith is stronger than the cold and rain. Congratulations! You are true heroes!
In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish the words of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).
Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana, that the young people suffered on their way to this World Youth Day. There young Sophie Morinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a moment of silence and of prayer to God, Our Father, for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.
This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have responded in great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We thank him with all our hearts! We send our greeting and our enthusiastic applause to him who brought us together here today. You know that, before coming to Brazil, I spoke with him, and I asked him to accompany me in prayer on this trip. And he said to me: I will accompany all of you in prayer and I will follow you on television. So, at this moment, he is watching us. We express to him our heartfelt thanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent! In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly. But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples. This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to be with him and to become his friends.
The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stages of the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and local communities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. Today he desires to come here to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have come as well to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith! You know that in the life of a Bishop there are many problems that need to be resolved. And with these problems and difficulties, a Bishop’s faith can grow sad. How horrible is a sad Bishop! How bad is that! So that my faith might not be sad, I came here to be filled with your contagious enthusiasm!
I greet you with affection. All of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, all young people of the world, in particular those who wanted to come to Rio de Janeiro but weren’t able to come. To those who are following us by means of radio, television and internet, to everyone I say: Welcome to this feast of faith! In several parts of the world, at this very moment, many young people have come together to share this event with us: let us all experience the joy of being united with each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my heart embraces all of you with universal affection. Because what is most important today is your gathering here and the gathering together of all the young people who are following us through various forms of media. From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you and embraces you in this beautiful city of Rio!
A particular greeting to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the untiring Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and to all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warm welcome given to me – I wish to say here that the people of Rio know well how to welcome, they know how to offer a great welcome – and I thank the Archbishop for the considerable work of realizing this World Youth Day, together with his Auxiliary Bishops and with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity. Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that have accompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offer an affectionate embrace in Jesus and with Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro!
© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
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