Pope Francis' message of welcome to World Youth Day Pilgrims

26 Jul 2013 | YOUNG PEOPLE

Welcoming Celebration on Copacabana

Good evening! In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish thewords of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you willrenew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana in which young SophieMorinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a minute’s silence and to pray for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have respondedin great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We express to him our heartfeltthanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent!In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly.But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of anencounter with Christ, of being his disciples.

This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthfuland vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to bewith him and to become his friends.The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stagesof the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ theRedeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded ofthe moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each ofus again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In thespirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and localcommunities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. I have come today to confirm you inthis faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of yourfaith!I greet you with great affection.

To all of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, to all youngpeople of the world, and in particular to those who have not been able to come to Rio de Janeiro but who are following usby means of radio, television and internet, I say: Welcome to this immense feast of faith! In several parts of the world, atthis very moment, many young people have come together to share this event: let us all experience the joy of being unitedwith each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my pastoral heart embraces all of you with universal affection.From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you to this beautiful city of Rio!I wish to extend greetings to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, andto all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warmwelcome given to me and for the considerable work of preparation for this World Youth Day, together with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil.

I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity.Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that haveaccompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offermy affectionate embrace in the Lord.Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio deJaneiro!