Pope Francis' message was sent on the final day of the Aug. 2-6 Asian Youth Day gathering in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, holding the theme: “Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia.”
More than two thousand young Catholics from all over Asia took part in the gathering, which came a year after the international WYD gathering in Krakow, Poland last summer, attended by Pope Francis.
The Pope was also present during the last Asian Youth Day, which coincided with Pope Francis' Aug. 13-18, 2014, visit to South Korea, and centered on the theme: “Asian Youth! Wake up! The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!”
This year's event in Indonesia featured talks and workshops on aimed at building mutual respect in Asia's diverse, multicultural population, caring for the environment and learning how to be missionaries in a digital world.
As part of the multicultural aspect and in an effort to address growing fundamentalism in the area, the event hosted several encounters between Christian, Islamic and other religious leaders.
Among the Asian Catholic leaders who attended the event were Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and a member of the Pope's “C9” council of cardinal advisers, and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of the Caritas Internationalis aid organization.
Indonesia's Vice President, Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, was present at the closing ceremony Aug. 6, when it was announced that India will be the location of the next Asian Youth Day.
The main celebrant at the closing Mass was Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, who at the end of his homily noted that attendees come from all over Asia.
“We do realize our differences: we are of different nationalities, different languages, different cultures, and so on,” he said.
“However, in this event, we do realize and experience that those differences cannot separate us, but the differences show the richness of the united humanity instead. It proves that the power of faith, hope and love unites us.”
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Suharyo closed by voicing his hope that the event would help the youths to “diligently and faithfully live out Gospel so that we may be filled with the joy of the Gospel. Thus, our life could mirror the glory of the Lord, which changes our lives.”