70,000 Youths Greet New Year in Prayer in Budapest

Ecumenical Meeting Organized by Taizé Community Concludes

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BUDAPEST, Hungary, JAN. 1, 2002 (Zenit.org).- About 70,000 young people, many from the troubled Balkans, heard appeals for Gospel forgiveness at an ecumenical meeting organized by the Taizé Community.



The young people prepared to return home today, after five days of prayer and reflection which included attention to a letter by Brother Roger, Taizé founder, entitled, "Love and Say It with Your Life."

The meeting was opened Dec. 28 by Brother Roger and Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, archbishop of Budapest. It was held in HungExpo, Budapest´s Exhibitions Park.

"Forgiveness is what is most impressive in the Gospel," Brother Roger said in a message that was translated into 20 languages. "The fact of forgiveness can change the heart of each one of us, because when we forgive, hardness of heart vanishes and there is room for infinite goodness."

The young people who descended on Budapest included Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. They were housed in schools, parishes and other public places.

John Paul II sent a message to the participants, inviting them to be "´sentinels of the morning´ at this particular moment when the world, divided and prey of violence and fear, seeks signs of hope."

"The presence of youth from the whole world, meeting in prayer and concord, witnesses to the profound aspiration for peace and fraternity that dwells in the human heart," John Paul II added. The Holy Father visited Taizé, in France, in 1986.

On New Year´s Eve, in the pavilions of the HungExpo, which were converted into an imposing place of prayer, a young Frenchman took the habit and joined the Taizé monks.