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August 23, 2011

L'Osservatore Director's Reflection on World Youth Day


WYD in Madrid
In the middle of the second day of the papal visit – in a Madrid peacefully invaded by an impressive number of boys and girls from every part of the world – Benedict XVI cited Plato in the Basilica of the Escorial, "Seek truth while you are young, for if you do not, it will later escape your grasp" (Parmenides, 135d). The invitation of the philosopher who lived before Christ, in antiquity evoked by Hebrews and Christians to support biblical revelation, sums up well the sense of the presence of the successor of Peter at World Youth Day. 

As a University professor, for some sixty years Joseph Ratzinger has been used to dialogue with new generations and understands their concerns. This is why the Pope wanted to dedicate a talk to the crucial question of the search for truth when he met young professors – a few days after the World Congress of Catholic Universities in Avila, city of St. Teresa of Jesus, whom Paul VI proclaimed Doctor of the Church: a new event in the history of World Youth Days, as the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid recalled in his greeting.

The meeting was not a last-minute addition to the papal itinerary, nor was his encounter with young religious women, who welcomed Benedict XVI with enthusiastic and moving affection. In both moments – against the splendid backdrop of the monastery of San Lorenzo of Escorial, created under Philip II, the sovereign who amidst shadows and light perhaps most represents the Spanish Catholic Monarchy – the Pope continued his reasoning with youth, and not only with those who belong to the Church.

The search for truth involves everyone and is inexhaustible, Benedict XVI explained, in the heart of these days which are revealing themselves to be an event of great magnitude. And the international media are awakening to it, albeit with some exceptions, due to prejudice or a logic which does not respect the most elementary hierarchy of news. Such as a program of the BBC which gave air time to truly minor protests at the expense of information about the Madrid event, and caused even the Guardian to complain.

But there is news, and many are becoming aware of it. The Pope has been able to unite young people from all over the world in Madrid to encourage them in the faith, in the hopes of also touching the hearts of those who are far away or are far from the Church. In an anxious society that is searching for solid foundations that are certainly not to be found in the apparently dominant mediocrity and utilitarianism. But a sure reference point exists, and it is in the person of Christ, intuited by Plato according to the Fathers of the Church: the only friend who doesn’t disappoint and whom Benedict XVI never tires to indicate.

editorial signed by Gian Maria Vian, director of the Vatican's semi-official daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano

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