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Monday, April 6, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 5 APR 2009 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass and before praying the Angelus, a brief ceremony took place during which a group of young Australians handed the World Youth Day cross and icon to a group of Spanish youth.

  First, however, the Holy Father reminded those present how the United Nations has designated 4 April as the Day "to raise awareness about the problem of anti-personnel mines. Nearly ten years since the convention banning this form of ordnance came into force, and following recent openings with the signing of the convention banning cluster munitions, I wish to encourage countries that have not already done so to sign without delay these important instruments of international humanitarian law, to which the Holy See has always given its backing. At the same time I express my support for all measures that seek to guarantee the victims of such devastating arms the assistance they need".

  "With great anguish", Benedict XVI also recalled, "our African brothers and sisters who a few days ago met with death in the Mediterranean as they sought to reach Europe. We cannot resign ourselves to such tragedies which have, unfortunately, been happening for some time. The size of the phenomenon makes it ever more important to co-ordinate strategies between the European Union and African countries, and to adopt adequate humanitarian measures to prevent migrants turning to unscrupulous traffickers. As I pray for the victims, that the Lord may welcome them into His peace, I would like to note that this problem, further aggravated by the global crisis, will find a solution only when the people of Africa, with the help of the international community, are able to free themselves from poverty and wars".

  Turning then to the 150 delegates (bishops, priests and lay people) who have been participating in an international meeting on World Youth Days organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pope noted: "Thus begin the preparations for the next world gathering of young people, which will take place in 2011 in Madrid, Spain, and for which I have already indicated the theme: 'Rooted and built in Christ, established in the faith' (Col 2, 7).

  "As is traditional", he added, "the young Australians will soon consign the World Youth Day cross to young Spaniards, the 'pilgrim cross' which carries the message of Christ's love to all the young people of the world. This handing-over ceremony has a highly symbolic value with which we express our immense gratitude to God for the gifts received at the great meeting of Sydney, and for those He will grant us at the gathering in Madrid".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by noting how tomorrow the WYD cross, accompanied by the icon of the Virgin Mary, will depart for the Spanish capital where it will be present at the Good Friday procession. It will them begin a long pilgrimage across the dioceses of Spain, returning to Madrid for summer 2011. "May this cross and this icon of Mary be for everyone a sign of the invincible love of Christ and of His - and our - Mother!"
ANG/MINES AFRICA WYD/...                    VIS 20090406 (540)

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