Pope Encourages Youth to Stand Up for Christ

( [email protected] ) Apr 06, 2004 07:13 AM EDT

VATICAN CITY – For Catholics, last Sunday's celebration was not only for Palm Sunday. The ceremony was held to mark the 19th Catholic World Youth Day and to celebrate the start of the Holy Week of Easter in the company of 40,000 young believer s at the Vatican.

Pope John Paul II, who joined the gathering, urged young people to have no fear of resisting the trends of modern society and its materialism.

In his message to youth, he said, “It is not easy to understand in our times, in which material wellbeing and comfort are proposed and sought after as priority values. But you, dear young people, do not be afraid to proclaim, in every circumstance, the Gospel of the Cross. Do not be afraid to go against the current!"

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published photographs of terror bombings in Madrid, Middle East violence and the Iraq war, and described the gathering as a "powerful antidote" to fear.

"The most insidious enemy of young people is called fear," the Vatican paper said. The pontiff, it said, invites youths to "ally themselves on Christ’s side, and not with the sowers of hate, the mercenaries of terror, the prophets of death."

Next year’s WYD will be held in Cologne, Germany.