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Saturday, 3 March 2001



1. I affectionately greet the university students of Rome who have led this now traditional Marian gathering at the beginning of Lent. I also greet the representatives of the Forum of Associations, organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference and meeting in Rome for a study conference.

Dear young people, I thank you for your presence. Soon you will be carrying the World Youth Day Cross through the streets of Rome before handing it over to your peers from Toronto. Always follow the path of the Gospel and make your university communities "schools of faith and culture".

I entrust your projects and your missionary efforts in the Church of Rome to Mary, Sedes Sapientiae.

2. I am pleased to greet the university students from Canada, together with the members of the Planning Committee for the next World Youth Day, which will take place in Toronto in July 2002. I also greet with gratitude the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic.

Dear friends, the journey of young people along the pathways of the world is now headed to a new destination: from Rome to Toronto. Next Palm Sunday, the young people of Italy will hand over to you the Cross which will be brought on pilgrimage to all the Dioceses in Canada. In receiving this Cross, you will also accept the heritage of the Great Jubilee. With creativity and enthusiasm, may you find new ways to lead the young people of the world, and especially your fellow university students, to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of humanity.

May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, guide your preparations for the next World Youth Day.
My affectionate greeting also goes to the elderly priests who are here with you. Their prayer, the fruit of a life completely devoted to the Gospel, is a source of strength and inspiration for your apostolate.

3. I affectionately greet the young Spanish university students gathered at the University of Navarre in Pamplona, together with the Vice-Grand Chancellor, Mons. Tomás Gutiérrez, the teachers and the technical administrative personnel.

Dear sons and daughters, keep with you the image of the Sedes Sapientiae which last September I had the joy of entrusting to universities across the world. As you conclude the icon's peregrinatio in Spain, I would like to encourage you to continue your research and cultural commitment. Study the theme of humanism, the subject of reflection during the Jubilee of Universities, in its various facets, so that the intrinsic connection between faith in Christ and the defence of human dignity will be seen more and more clearly.

I joyfully greet the young people gathered in St George's Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine, with their new Cardinal Marian Jaworski and Bishop Julian Gbur.

Dear young people, I thank you for your participation. In a few months I will be coming to visit your homeland, and this evening we prayed for this event together. When the icon of the Sedes Sapientiae, on pilgrimage through the universities of Ukraine, arrives before long among you, welcome it with love and entrust all young Ukrainians to Mary, so that you will be able to build together a future of peaceful prosperity for your country.

5. I joyfully greet Bishop Frans Wiertz of Roermond, and with him all the participants in the Marian vigil gathered in Maastricht. I greet each of you, dear students of The Netherlands.

This link-up with Maastricht recalls the journey of the European community. Young people, persevere in your commitment as Christian witnesses in the university; this is an indispensable task for promoting a new Christian humanism in Europe.

May Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, protect all the Dutch and European young people, who are on their way to goals of peace and authentic human development.

I extend a cordial greeting to the young Mexicans gathered in Puebla for the congress of "New People" organized by the University of Anahuac in Mexico City, and accompanied by Mons. Antonio López Sánchez, delegate for youth ministry in Puebla.

Dear young people, at the beginning of the third millennium, cast the nets of the Gospel into the vast world of American culture. Support the new evangelization with your enthusiasm as young believers. Bear witness in your universities and everywhere that Christ is the source of hope for contemporary man.

May Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, go with you always.

7. We are concluding this rapid tour of the various places in the world where young people are gathered in prayer with Mary. Dear young people, I hope with all my heart that you will always be generous in following Jesus, especially this Lent. The Pope accompanies you with his prayer and gladly blesses you.


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