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Pope arrives in Madrid, says World Youth Day like 'pure and youthful breeze'

Catholic World News - August 18, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Madrid on August 18 to join in the World Youth Day (WYD) observances there, and immediately sent a message to the young participants: “Let nothing and no one take away your peace. Do not be ashamed of the Lord.”

The spirit of WYD is “like a pure and youthful breeze, with refreshing scents,” the Pope said on his arrival. The contact with so many spirited and dedicated young Catholics, he said, brings “confidence in the future of the Church and the world.”

Pope Benedict arrived in Madrid after a short morning flight from Rome. He was greeted at the airport by the apostolic nuncio in Spain, Archbishop Renzo Fratini, and by King Juan Carlos, who remarked that young Spaniards had been waiting for the Pontiff “with open arms.”

In his address at the airport ceremony, the Pope began by thanking King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia for their greeting, then going on to thank all those who had helped to plan the WYD festivities and to host the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have swarmed to Madrid.

These young people, the Pope said, have come to WYD to deepen their faith and learn how to communicate that faith to others. “Many of them,” he said, “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 WYD participants, the Pope continued, recognize the challenge that they face in society, including a “prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption.” They are concerned about their societies’ economic future, the threats to world peace, the degradation of the environment. Among their contemporaries they can see the heavy toll taken by alienation, depression, and drug abuse.

There are some young people at WYD, the Pope continued, “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.” The Pope emphasized that today’s young Catholics are not seeking to impose their views on others by force, but insist on just treatment for their own views. Particularly in secularized societies, he said, they are “living together with other legitimate choices in a spirit of respect while at the same time demanding due respect for one’s own choices.”

At WYD, the Pope said, these young people “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.” Moreover, he said, they will realize that they are not alone—that many thousands of other young Catholics, who were not able to attend the festivities in Madrid—share their faith and their aspirations.

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