.- Pope John Paul II thanked the Catholic youth of the world yesterday for always having been close to him during his 25-year pontificate.
“The response by young people has been truly encouraging,” he told a crowd of 30,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. “Today I wish to thank them for always having been close to me during these years and I would like them to know that I continue to count on them."
In remarks made before praying the Angelus with the faithful, the 83-year-old pontiff recalled his first days as pope 25 years ago.
"I remember well the days of October 1978," he said. "In a special way I recall today the first Angelus that I prayed from this window on October 22.
"Now, while I think with gratitude of the past, my thoughts turn to young people, with whom I established, right from the start of my petrine ministry a preferential dialogue. I remember that, at the end of that first Angelus, I added a special greeting for them, saying: 'You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope."
The Holy Father will celebrate a mass of thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Square Thursday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. to mark the 25th year of his pontificate.