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Contagious joy

· In his message for the celebration in 2014 Pope Francis announces that John Paul II will be the patron of World Youth Day ·

“It is a tragic thing to see a young person who 'has everything', but is weary and weak”, unable to “reject the 'low cost' offers”. Young people must learn how to rediscover the courage to be happy, joyful and sober.

The Pontiff wrote this in his message for World Youth Day 2014, the first of three messages which will be dedicated to the Beatitudes which will prepare the way for the next international world day to be held in Krakow in 2016. The Holy Father also announced that John Paul II will be the patron of World Youth Day. It was Pope John Paul himself who began these world days.

In his message the Pope recalls to young people that Jesus showed us the path to follow, embodying the Beatitudes with his entire life. Living the Beatitudes today is truly a challenge and we must follow Christ.

Pope Francis explains the meaning of being poor in spirit, touching on the heart of theme for the upcoming celebration. Choosing “the path of poverty and self-emptying” is also the path of Christ. The Pontiff pointed to St Francis of Assisi's example. Young Christians are thus called “to a Gospel lifestyle marked by sobriety”.

Pope Francis then underlined the deep connection between the theme of World Youth Day in Rio — “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations!” — and the Beatitude of being poor in spirit. He thus explains that “evangelical poverty is a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God”.

In the end the Holy Father recalled the 30th anniversary of the entrustment of the Jubilee cross which is to take place on 22 April. “That symbolic act by John Paul II”, Pope Francis, “was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents”.

The full text of the Pope's message

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