.- Pope John Paul II appeared in a live video to hundreds of young people gathered at St. John Lateran Basilica Thursday evening. The young people had gathered to show their support and express their hope that the Pope will travel to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, in August, reported the Associated Press.
The appearance lasted less than a minute. The 84-year-old Pope did not speak but made the sign of the cross to the crowd, which broke into cheers. At one point, the Pope reportedly covered his eyes with his hand, and the live video signal cut out.
"We'll see you in Cologne," one of the speakers at the prayer service said. World Youth Day is the Pope’s only scheduled foreign trip of the year.
The prayer service in St. John Lateran Basilica was presided over by Camillo Cardinal Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome. He read a message from John Paul that said: "I wish to spiritually join you, and to express all my affection for you: I know that you are always close to me and you never tire of praying for me. I greet you and thank you from the bottom of my heart."
He then prayed: "We raise together our eyes to Jesus the Eucharist. ... Jesus, we adore You hidden in the host! In a time marked by hatred, egoism, the desire for false happiness, decadent behavior, the absence of paternal and maternal figures, instability in so many young families and the fragility and uneasiness of which young people are victims, we look to You, Jesus Eucharist with renewed hope.”
“Notwithstanding our sins,” he continued, “we trust in Your Divine Mercy. ... The heavenly Father created us in His image and likeness; from Him we have received the gift of life that, the more we recognize it as precious from the moment of its beginning to death, the more threatened and manipulated it becomes."
We adore You, Jesus Eucharist. We adore Your body and blood given for us and for all in the remission of sins. ... As we adore You, how can we not think about the many things we should do to give You glory?.”
The Pope implored Christ “to understand that 'to do' in Your Church, .... it is important above all 'to be', that is, to stay with You in adoration, in Your gentle company."
The Holy Father added his prayer that each young person present would place Jesus at the center of their lives, commit to building "a civilization of love, and participate in Sunday, and even daily, Mass."
He said he hoped for many vocations to the consecrated life and to the priesthood as well as "generous vocations to holiness, which is the high measure of ordinary Christian life, especially in families: It is this which the Church and society most needs today."
Since returning to the Vatican from Gemelli Hospital Sunday, the Pope has committed to only one public appearance during Holy Week — a blessing on Easter Sunday. Senior cardinals are expected to stand in for him at other events next week.