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Christ and his message are the answer to the ills of our time


In the evening of Sunday, 15 May, 1988 the Holy Father gave the following address to the young people of Peru at Lima.

Dear young people of Peru!

1. Thank you for coming in such large numbers and with such enthusiasm to this important meeting which I wanted to have with you during this short visit to Lima. You are the hope of the Church! You will be the dawning of a new day, if you are the bearers of the Life which is Christ! This is both a challenge and a source of happiness: to receive the life which Christ has brought to us and to communicate it to others, with all the vitality and energy of your youth, with the innocence and dynamism that is part of your age. Be the builders of a better world, starting today!

I still remember very well the meeting we had in Monterrico during my last visit when I proposed the ideal of the Beatitudes to you. Today again I want to speak to each one of you and through you to all the young people in this beautiful country, because the Lord loves each and every one of you and awaits the personal and unique response which springs from a generous heart. You have all been called in a personal way to live in the love of Jesus and to be his apostles. "It is not you who have chosen me but I who have chosen you" (jn 15:16), the Lord tells us; that is how the Apostle John experienced it. He came to know the Lord while still a youth like you.

2. The world in which you have to live, along with great achievements, is full of very deep contradictions. The attachment to sin is great and painful. Many are going farther and farther and farther away from God, thus leaving the pathway to holiness to which they have been invited. By breaking the bond with their Father they enter into conflict with others, with themselves and with nature. There we find the root of personal sin and of its terrible social consequences.

Today there is very little that is not questioned. Everything is doubted. Human relationships; some would say, are based merely on convention. The right to hold on to perennial values has been denied. Violence is exalted. There is flight away from personal commitment and from a true building up of the world, to seek refuge in alcohol and drugs. The disrespect for human life has become widespread. There is little respect for moral principles. People give the impression that they have lost their way.

In the face of a panorama that might only mean discouragement and despair even for the strong, I say to you: young people of Peru, Christ and his message of love are the answer to the ills of our time! It is he who sets the people free from the chains of sin in order to be reconciled with the Father. He is the only one who is able to satisfy the longing for the infinite which is deep in your hearts. He is the only one who can satisfy your thirst for happiness, because he is the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. In 14:6). He holds the answers to the deepest questions and anxieties of all mankind and of history itself.

With the enthusiasm that is part and parcel of your youth, look for the Lord Jesus. He will answer all your anxieties. Be converted in your hearts in order to reach life! It is only out of deep and personal conversion that you can hope for any real change. This in turn will have an effect on others and produce relations of solidarity.

Do not look elsewhere for what only Christ can give you. Your thirst for God cannot be satisfied by substitutes such as the ideologies which only make the conflicts and the hatred worse. You should not avoid the fascinating adventure of living a life in accordance with the Gospel. Do not give in to the temptation to violence which can only destroy and lead to despair. Opt rather for a culture of life and fraternal love!

4. Young people of Peru! I am putting my trust in you. Will you be able to accept and live out the gift of life which Jesus, the Lord, has brought us? Will you be able to be attentive and to accept the vocation to be disciples and apostles? Will you have the courage to make of your lives a clear sign that Christ is the answer which is being sought in today's world?

Dear young men and women: you need to have a deep desire in your hearts and great courage in order to proclaim Christ in your own surroundings and in society. Be apostles among your friends and companions. Look for a solid formation in the faith, nourish your lives in the Eucharist, be strong in your prayer; in this way you will be able to reach out towards others with the assurance that comes from the Lord. The noble task of being Christ's messengers among those who are all around you awaits each one of you. Build up in your young hearts the desire to be true apostles, bold witnesses to the gospel, the builders of the civilization of love.

I place the hope of which you are the beaters in the hands Mary, our Mother and Our Lady of Evangelization, the title which you have given her here in Lima. Take her to your hearts, the Mother of young people. Let her guide you to her Son and show you the way of reconciliation. May she who is the example of generous love keep you strong in faith and teach you to live in the service of your brothers and sisters, especially those who are most in need.

To you who are the disciples of Jesus in the third millennium of Christianity, I entrust the work of evangelization among the young and the construction of the civilization of love.

Priests for Life
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