VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- To make the planet “a society which is more and more like a family,” John Paul II invited young people to be open to others of different cultures.
The Pope’s appeal is included in the message he sent to the ecumenical Taizé Community. The letter is addressed to tens of thousands of young Europeans who are preparing for a meeting being organized by the Taizé Community in Lisbon, Portugal.
The 27th “Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth,” Dec. 28-Jan. 1, will offer young people an opportunity for prayer and meeting to deepen their faith.
“Dear young people, the Pope joins in prayer with all of you who are together in Lisbon at the initiative of the Taizé Community,” the Holy Father writes in his message.
“During your days, you will have the opportunity to live in an intimate relationship with the Lord and to have an experience of Church with the communities of Portugal, while thanking God for the gifts the Lord has given you,” the Holy Father states.
He continues: “To be solid Christians, you are called to return to the wellsprings of the faith to discover the depths of the mystery of God. This knowledge will help you to love Christ, to serve him in his Church, and to bear witness in the world, in the places where you are sent.
“You are also experiencing communion among young people; this communion is the foundation of inner peace and brotherhood.”
“When you return home, become creators of peace and unity to an ever greater degree!” the Pope exhorts. “The city where you are meeting, Lisbon, is open to the world. May you, in turn, be open to your brothers and sisters from different cultures to make the planet a society which is more and more like a family!”
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has also written to the young people.
“In spite of national, cultural and denominational differences, you have come together to give the joyful and luminous message of salvation in Christ, whose birth we are celebrating these days,” the patriarch stated. “You have come to confess with one voice and to translate into facts that Christianity still has a lot to say to the world, to reveal the substance and the meaning of life.”
For his part, Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, stated: “These kinds of meetings are important today when we see that Western society is unfortunately getting further and further away from Christian values.”
“As young Christians, you represent the future of Europe, and much depends on you,” he added. “Witness to the Lord fearlessly and may your efforts be worthy of Christian hope. Be the light of the world.”