John Paul II Assesses Swiss Trip

"Christ Invites Youth to 'Rise,' to Give Full Meaning to Their Lives"

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to assess his recent trip to Switzerland.



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1. I conserve in my spirit images of different moments of the brief but intense stay that Divine Providence granted me again to experience in Switzerland last Saturday and Sunday.

I wish to renew my expression of gratitude to my brother bishops and to the civil authorities, especially the president of the Helvetian Confederation, for the welcome I received and for all the preparatory work undertaken. I also thank the Federal Council for the decision to raise Switzerland to the rank of diplomatic representation to the Holy See.

I express profound gratitude, moreover, to the Sisters of Charity of the Holy Cross, who offered me hospitality in their residence of Viktoriaheim. I thank, finally, all those who took care of various aspects of my pastoral trip.

2. The principal motive for the apostolic pilgrimage to that beloved nation was the meeting with Catholic young people of Switzerland, who last Saturday had their first national meeting. I thank the Lord who gave me the opportunity to live with them a moment of great spiritual enthusiasm, and to propose to the new Swiss generations a message that I would like to extend to all the young people of Europe and the world.

This message, so dear to my heart, is summarized in three verbs: "Rise!" "Listen!" "Follow him!" It is Christ himself, risen and alive, who repeats these words to every young man and young woman of our time. It is he who invites the youth of the third millennium to "rise," that is, to give full meaning to their lives. I wished to echo this appeal in the conviction that only Christ, Redeemer of man, can help youths to "rise" from negative experiences and mentalities and to grow to their full human stature, spiritual and moral.

3. Sunday morning, solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, I was able to concelebrate the Eucharist with the bishops and many priests who came from every part of Switzerland. The festive rite took place in the Allmend Field, a vast esplanade in front of the Palace of the BEA Bern Expo. With a unanimous voice we raised, to the one and triune God, praise and thanksgiving for the beauty of creation, of which Switzerland is rich, and even more so for the communion in Love, of which he is the source.

In the light of this fundamental mystery of the Christian faith, I renewed my appeal for Christian unity, inviting Catholics first of all to live it among themselves, making the Church "the home and school of communion" ("Novo Millennio Ineunte," 43). The Holy Spirit, who creates unity, impels us also to the mission, so that the truth of God and man, revealed in Christ, will be witnessed and proclaimed to all. Everyone, in fact, bears in himself the imprint of the one and triune God and finds peace only in him.

4. Before leaving Bern, I wished to meet with the association of former Swiss Guards. It was a providential occasion to thank them for the precious service that, for almost five centuries, the Swiss Guard Corps renders to the Apostolic See. How many thousands of young men from Swiss families and parishes have offered their singular contribution to the Successor of Peter in the course of these centuries! Young men like all others, full of life and ideals, have been able to manifest in this way their sincere love of Christ and of the Church. May the youth of Switzerland and of the whole world be able to discover the wonderful unity between faith and life, and prepare themselves to carry out with enthusiasm the mission to which God calls them!

May Mary Most Holy, whom I sincerely thank for the realization of this 103rd apostolic trip, obtain for all this great and precious gift, which is the secret of true joy.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, one of the Pope's aides read the following summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During my recent visit to Switzerland, I encouraged the young people to respond with enthusiasm to the Lord's call. Christ invites each of us to "rise," to "listen," and to "follow him." Only in this way -- as followers of Christ -- can we discover the full meaning and purpose of our lives.

On Trinity Sunday I appealed for a renewed commitment to work for Christian unity. The Holy Spirit is the source of that unity, and is also the inspiration for our mission to proclaim the truth revealed in Christ.

May Christians everywhere discover the wonderful harmony between faith and life, and so accomplish with joy the mission to which God calls them.

[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims here today, especially the many school and university students and other groups from England, Finland, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Upon all of you I invoke the grace and peace of Jesus Christ, and I wish you many blessings during your stay in Rome.