.- Following Palm Sunday Mass and before praying the Angelus with more than 40,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI greeted representatives from World Youth Day 2011 and discussed the transfer of the World Youth Day Cross from Sydney. Reflecting on the transfer of the cross to its Spanish delegation, he prayed that it be a sign of Christ’s “invincible love.”
Pope Benedict also used the occasion to make a twofold appeal to the world, asking its leaders to sign a ban on cluster munitions and to stop the tragedy of migrant trafficking.
The Holy Father commented on today’s transfer of the World Youth Day Cross from Australian young people, host of last year’s World Youth Day, to young people from Spain. "This 'passing of witness,'” he said, “takes on a highly symbolic value, with which we express immense gratitude to God for the gifts we have received in the great encounter of Sydney, and those he shall wish to grant us at the encounter in Madrid.”
The next international World Youth Day will take place in Madrid, Spain in 2011 according to the theme "Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith.”
Pope Benedict described the journey that the WYD symbols will take. “Tomorrow the Cross, accompanied by the icon of the Virgin Mary, will leave for the Spanish capital, and there it will be present in the great procession on Good Friday. After this, it will begin a long pilgrimage that, through the dioceses of Spain, will bring it back to Madrid in the summer of 2011.”
The Pontiff concluded his words before the Angelus, praying that “this Cross and this icon of Mary be for all a sign of the invincible love of Christ and of his and our Mother."
Before his discussion of World Youth Day 2011, the Pope recalled that April 4 was the observance of the United Nations Day for Mine Awareness. "I wish to encourage all the countries that have not yet done so to sign without delay these important instruments of international humanitarian law, to which the Holy See has always given its support,” he said. “I likewise express my support for any measure aimed at guaranteeing the necessary assistance for the victims of these devastating weapons."
Benedict XVI expressed “great sadness for our African brothers and sisters, who a few days ago met their death in the Mediterranean Sea, while they were trying to reach Europe."
"We cannot resign ourselves to such tragedies, which unfortunately have been repeated for some time!” he continued. “The dimensions of the phenomenon make it increasingly urgent to implement coordinated strategies between the European Union and African countries, as well as the adoption of adequate humanitarian measures, to prevent these migrants from resorting to unscrupulous traffickers.”
He added: “While I pray for the victims, that the Lord may welcome them into his peace, I would like to observe that this problem, further aggravated by the global crisis, will find a solution only when the African populations, with the help of the international community, are able to free themselves from misery and wars."