Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in his video message to World Youth Day pilgrims shortly before the commencement of the event, said he looked forward to the upcoming opportunities for prayer and reflection with young people from around the world. Saying that the goals truly worth living for are found in Jesus Christ, he asked for prayers for the success of his mission and for the spiritual growth of World Youth Day pilgrims during their time in Australia, which he called the great “southern land of the Holy Spirit.”
The Pope thanked the Australian government and the government of New South Wales, the organizers of World Youth Day, and the event’s sponsors. He further expressed gratitude to those who are hosting pilgrims.
“Many of the young people have made great sacrifices in order to undertake the journey to Australia, and I pray that they will be rewarded abundantly,” he noted. “The parishes, schools and host families have been most generous in welcoming these young visitors, and they too deserve our thanks and our appreciation.”
Referencing the theme of World Youth Day, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8), Pope Benedict said:
“How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! There are still many who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, while many others, for whatever reason, have not recognized in this Good News the saving truth that alone can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts.
“It is my firm belief,” he continued, “that young people are called to be instruments of that renewal, communicating to their peers the joy they have experienced through knowing and following Christ, and sharing with others the love that the Spirit pours into their hearts, so that they too will be filled with hope and with thanksgiving for all the good things they have received from our heavenly Father.”
Pope Benedict said that many modern young people lack hope, being perplexed by the questions of a confusing world.
“They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions,” he explained. “They are challenged by the arguments of those who deny the existence of God and they wonder how to respond. They see great damage done to the natural environment through human greed and they struggle to find ways to live in greater harmony with nature and with one another.”
The answers to these challenges, the Pope said, are found when “the Spirit points us towards the way that leads to life, to love and to truth. The Spirit points us towards Jesus Christ.”
“In Him we find the answers that we are seeking, we find the goals that are truly worth living for, we find the strength to pursue the path that will bring about a better world.”
He then described his hopes and prayers for World Youth Day:
“My prayer is that the hearts of the young people who gather in Sydney for the celebration of World Youth Day will truly find rest in the Lord, and that they will be filled with joy and fervor for spreading the Good News among their friends, their families, and all whom they meet.”
Asking for prayers in support of his mission, Pope Benedict repeated his invitation to young people to join him in Australia.