Youth Teleconnect With Pope to Pray Rosary

European and African Students Listen to Message of Love

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2006 ( University students from 12 cities in Europe and Africa united via a satellite connection to pray the rosary with Benedict XVI.

The fundamental truth of the Christian faith is that "God is love," the Pope told the students in an address Saturday.

The Holy Father gave copies of his first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" to some of the young people.

"In this way, symbolically," he said, "I wish to give it to all university students of Europe and Africa, with the hope that the fundamental truth of the Christian faith -- God is love -- will illuminate the way for each one of you, and through your testimony shine for your fellow students."

"This truth on the love of God, origin, meaning and end of the universe and of history was revealed by Jesus Christ, with his word and with his life, especially in his passion, death and resurrection," Benedict XVI said.

"It is the foundation of Christian experience that, as leaven, is able to make the whole of human culture ferment so that it will express the best of itself and cooperate in the growth of a more just and peaceful world," he said.

The Holy Father was heard by thousands of university students of Rome, gathered in Paul VI Hall, and by students in Bonn, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; Fribourg, Switzerland; Madrid, Spain; Munich, Germany; Salamanca, Spain; St. Petersburg, Russia; Sofia, Bulgaria; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Antananarivo, Madagascar; Owerri, Nigeria; and Nairobi, Kenya.

The Pope and those gathered in Rome could also see the young people of the various countries who were leading the mysteries of the rosary. He said the event was "a beautiful gesture of the communion of the Catholic Church."

Civilization of love

Benedict XVI continued: "This Marian Vigil, so loved by Pope John Paul II, builds bridges of fraternity among young university students of Europe, and this afternoon enlarges them to the point of touching the African continent so that communion between the new generations will grow and the civilization of love will spread.

"For this reason, I wish to give friends who are connected with us from Africa a particularly affection embrace, which I would like to extend to all the beloved African populations."

The Pope invited the students to attend the World Youth Day activities which will be held this year at the diocesan level.

He invited Roman youth to attend the youth meeting to be held in St. Peter's Square on April 6.

"We will receive the pilgrim Cross, coming from Cologne, and remember with grateful hearts, a year after his death, my great predecessor, John Paul II," Benedict XVI said.

At the same time, he invited them to read the message he has addressed to them for World Youth Day, whose theme is "Your Word Is a Lamp to My Feet and a Light to My Path."

The next international youth day will be in Sydney, Australia, in July 2008.