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Friday, December 12, 2003


VATICAN CITY, DEC 12, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father presided last evening in the Vatican basilica at a Mass for 10,000 students from universities in Rome in preparation for Christmas. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, celebrated the Eucharist with 47 chaplains from European universities.

In his homily, the Pope said that 'the most intimate human aspirations find their full response only in God. For this reason I encourage you, dear ones, to see to it that your formatives years be ceaselessly sustained by seeking God. Never stop in the face of doubts and difficulties. God ... is near you. His comforting company will make you aware of the mission which you are called to undertake in the university milieu.'

John Paul II underscored that many of the students present in the basilica had taken part in the congress of recent days promoted by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe and by the Rome diocesan office for the university pastoral ministry 'which dedicated its attention to the process of European integration.'

'In this process you too, who are part of the university world, must offer your contribution. For European unity, great importance is given to social, political and economic structures but the humanistic and spiritual aspects must absolutely not be overlooked. It is indispensable for Europe today to preserve its patrimony of values and to recognize that it was Christianity above all that was the force behind promoting them, reconciling them and consolidating them.'

Then, in a reference to Christmas, the Pope said that 'this is a privileged occasion to underline the most heartfelt Christian values. With
the birth of Jesus, in the simplicity and poverty of Bethlehem, God gave again dignity to the life of every human being; He offered everyone the possibility of participating in his own divine life. May this incomparable gift always find hearts ready to receive it!'
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