President of Pontifical Council for Laity speaks to young people about Saint's devotion to youth of the world.
Vatican City – We’re in the final run-up to the great Canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. During these last days of joyous anticipation Cardinal Rylko, President for the Pontifical Council for the Laity spoke to the young people of the Vatican’s international youth centre Centro San Lorenzo about Blessed John Paul II’s love of and devotion towards to the youth of the World, which was particularly evident in his institution of World Youth Day.
“Once John Paul II, when talking with the Polish youth” began the Cardinal, “opened up his heart before them saying ‘I take inside of me a great zeal, and it is a zeal for you young people.’”
Rylko affirmed that this phrase characterised the “great love that John Paul II always had for the younger generations, who he met along his way.”
He explained how the Blessed actually defined himself as a “friend” to the young people, “but this friendship was also a need of his, and this has been very important for his pedagogy and his relationship with the youth that he met” said Rylko, “to be with the young people was a profound necessity of his heart; each meeting he had with the youth rejuvenated his strengths.”
Even throughout his old age and time of illness, the Cardinal recalled, “you could see how good he felt to be among the youth.” A fine example of this was that unforgettable Saturday night in Tor Vegata, Rome, with his beloved young people at World Youth Day. The image of the almost crippled John Paul, dancing with his young friends, face illuminated with joy, is one that has remained in many people’s hearts over the years.
“He wasn’t just their teacher as such,” insisted Rylko, “but a dear friend, an authentic witness of God.
“During his pontificate he really bet upon the youth” he continued, “and he was never let down by them, he saw in them allies in his mission, in the mission of evangelisation, in the method of searching for new ways of bringing Christ to the people.”
He explained how in all of his apostolic visits, which touched down in more than 130 different countries and in all of the continents, “millions and millions of people listened to him, and in their own language. And during these visits he never forgot to meet with the youth; this was a fixed appointment that he sought, and the youth sought it with him, and they let themselves be guided by him.”
“What’s more” he continued, “he was aware that it was not him that the youth looked for, but Christ. This was something he said himself.”
The Cardinal explained that the soon-to-be-saint spoke to the young people about the “great mystery of God” and that it is only in Jesus Christ that “we as humans can find a full reply to the deepest questions we have in our hearts.”
It was precisely for this dialogue and zeal that the “youth were faithful to him right until the end” he professed, “when he returned to the house of the Father on that unforgettable day, 23 April 2005.”
He then referred to those piercing words of the Blessed, addressed to the youth in St Peter’s Square: “You are the future of the world and hope of the church, you are my hope!”
“It was here that his great world adventure began” Rylko affirmed, and his “great project to evangelise the young generations, a project to which he was faithful throughout the rest of his life.”
“He saw in the youth the fundamental and daily journey of the Church” he added.
Rylko explained that the Saint had a very “high concept of the youth” in which being young is not just “personal property”, but that it “belongs to the whole complex of that space that every human travels through during their life, and is a special part of each and every person, and thus it is a