Papal Text Messages Encourage and Catechize

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SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is weaving together a mini-catechesis with a medium nearly any young person can relate to -- cell phone text messages.

The Friday morning local time message to Youth Day pilgrims was a call to Christian love. "The spirit impels us 4ward 2wards others; the fire of his love makes us missionaries of God's charity. See u tomorrow nite - BXVI," it read.

On Saturday night, there will be a vigil with the Pontiff, followed by an all-night sleep out under the stars leading up to Sunday's closing Mass.

Before the Pope's boat-a-cade reached Sydney Harbor Thursday afternoon local time for his official arrival to World Youth Day, the Holy Father sent his third text message. That one said, "The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of salvation history: let him write your life-history 2 - BXVI."

On Wednesday, after his encounter with typical Australian animals, including a koala bear and a carpet python, the Pontiff sent a text message reading, "The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles & gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! - BXVI."

Pilgrims received their first text message from the Bishop of Rome on Monday. It said, "Young friend, God and his people expect much from u because u have within you the Fathers supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus - BXVI."

Youth Day participants can receive the messages by texting the word Pope to a special number. Benedict XVI is expected to send a message each day of the event.