By Catholic News Service
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Contrary to what many may think, young people are strongly attracted to Jesus Christ and the Gospel, Pope Benedict XVI told thousands of Spanish youths.
The pope urged some 5,000 pilgrims from Youth Mission of Madrid to continue to help their peers discover they are all loved by God and that his is “the only love that never fails and never ends.”
The pope spoke to the young people packed inside the courtyard of his papal summer residence, south of Rome, Aug. 9. He also greeted thousands of young people who could not fit inside the confined courtyard and gathered outside the residence’s entrance.
Pope Benedict sat and listened from his balcony as five young adults described how they grew closer to God and the church through their evangelization efforts with Madrid’s Youth Mission missionary initiative.
The program, spearheaded by Madrid Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, helps prepare young Catholics to evangelize their peers.
The pope told his audience that people have not and will not always be receptive to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Just as the early disciples faced many obstacles and persecution, even today “you see many around you who have forgotten or do not want anything to do with” God, and instead remain “blinded by many fleeting dreams that promise much but leave the heart empty,” he said.
Faith in Jesus opens up “the horizon of a new life, authentic freedom, and hope without limits,” he said, but it needs missionaries to bring this saving power to everyone.
“Contrary to what many people think, the Gospel strongly attracts young people,” he said.
He reminded his young and enthusiastic audience members “to cultivate your personal relationship with Christ, to always keep it in the middle of your heart” so that Christ and his love will be visible to all.