At Close of Centenary Year of the Death of St. Maria Goretti

Chastity Safeguards Love, Says John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today, before and after praying the Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, July 6, concludes the celebration of the centenary of the death of St. Maria Goretti, "little and gentle martyr of purity," as she was described by my venerated predecessor Pius XII. Her mortal body rests in the church of Nettuno, in the Diocese of Albano, and her beautiful soul lives in God's glory. What does this fragile but mature Christian girl say to young people today with her life, but above all with her heroic death? Marietta, as she was familiarly called, reminds young people of the third millennium that true happiness calls for courage and a spirit of sacrifice, the rejection of any compromise with evil and readiness to pay in person, including with death, for one's faithfulness to God and to his commandments.

How timely is this message! Today, pleasure and egoism, or even immorality, are often exalted, in the name of false ideals of freedom and happiness. It is necessary to reaffirm with clarity that purity of heart and body must be defended, because chastity "safeguards" authentic love.

2. May St. Maria Goretti help all young people to experience the beauty and joy of the evangelical beatitude: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

Purity of heart, like every virtue, calls for a daily training of the will and constant interior discipline. It requires, above all, assiduous recourse to God in prayer.

Numerous occupations and the accelerated speed of life at times make it difficult to cultivate this important spiritual dimension. Summer vacations, however, which begin for many, precisely, in these days, if they are not "burnt" in dissipation and simple diversion, can become a propitious occasion to give new breath to the interior life.

3. Hoping that the summer rest will be of profit to grow spiritually, I entrust young people to Mary, radiant with beauty. May she, who sustained Maria Goretti in her trial, help all, especially adolescents and youths, to discover the value and importance of chastity to build the civilization of love.

[At the end of the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

In recent days the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families, adopted by the U.N. in 1990, has come into force. This legislative instrument signals an important step forward, because it considers the migrant as a person united to his family. While I express great satisfaction for this juridical achievement, I hope that a more vast adherence by the states will reinforce its efficacy, so that, with the adoption of similar provisions and constant international collaboration, the complex phenomenon of migrations may develop in legality and in respect of persons and families.

[Translation by ZENIT]