Pope stresses preferential option for youn
by Peter Stanford GOVERNMENTS have a pressing moral obligation to place job creation, especially for the young, at the top of their list of priorities, Pope John Paul has stressed in an apostolic letter released as 200,000 young people prepare to descend on Rome for Sunday's celebrations to mark International Youth Year.
The 62-page apostolic letter, addressed "to the youth of the world", was released on Tuesday and urges young people to take up their responsibilities in the Church. "In you there is hope, for you belong to the future, just as the future belongs to you", the Pope writes.
In a confident add hopeful tone, bearing very much his personal hallmark, the Pope comments on the fact that young people from very different backgrounds are united by a common concern for the world, and for "the hundreds of thousands of people who are living in extreme poverty and are even dying of hunger, while at the same time vast sums are being spent on the production of nuclear weapons".
Yet in the face of the great peril which threatens the world, Pope John Paul places his trust in youth. "You, young people, are bearers of the yearning for brotherhood and widespread solidarity — and certainly you do not want conflict between human beings", he writes.
The problem of unemployment, and youth employment in particular, concerns the Pope greatly in the letter. In passages which echo his 1981 pastoral letter, Laborem exercens, Pope John Paul highlights the role of work and employment as a vital element in personal growth, bringing human fulfilment and not just monetary gain.
The hopelessness of young people who are without work is casting a shadow of uncertainty over the world, he writes, "Young people arc asking themselves the question, does society need me, will I be able to find a type of work that will enable me to become independent, to bring up a family of my own in dignified living conditions, and most importantly of all, a home of my own? Is it really true that society is expecting my contribution?"
Young people have a duty to ask questions such as these and to press governments to provide satisfactory answers, the Pope says. The existence of injustice and hunger in our world demands that all Christians, motivated by concern, work to improve the lot of their fellow man.
This is the first time that an apostolic letter has been
addressed solely to youth, and comes in the midst of United Nations International Year of the Youth. As part of the celebrations, Pope John Paul issued an invitation last November for young people to congregate in Rome on Palm Sunday.
Over 150,000 have answered his call already, and organisers expect upwards of 200,000 from all corners of the world to travel to Rome.
In his traditional Maundy Thursday meditation to priests, Pope John Paul emphasises that they must go out and meet young people, especially in youth year. Drawing on his own experiences as a priest and bishop in Poland, he mentions tourism, sport and culture a. providing chances for contact between priests and the young. "If there is love of young people in our priestly hearts we shall know how to help them find the answer to what constitutes the life vocation of each one".
At 4prri tomorrow, the young people will gather in the vast square in front of St John Lateran, the mother church of the Catholic world, for prayers and songs, led by Pope John Paul. Later a vigil of prayers will be held in six languages — English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish, and in the various churches in the area, there will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.