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The spark of mercy

· Opening Mass of World Youth Day includes prayers for the victims of terrorism ·

“During this Mass, let us pray for all the victims of the recent terrorist attacks. Let us pray for the priest who was murdered today while celebrating the Eucharist in France”. These were the words of Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop of Kraków, to some 500,000 young people gathered in Błonia Park, on the banks of the river Vistula, for the opening Mass of the 31st World Youth Day on Tuesday, 26 July. 

During the Mass silence and emotion instantly took the place of the engaging festivity. Looking from face to face, all wet with tears and rain, the Cardinal greeted them in several languages, welcoming them to the city. He sought to direct everyones feelings towards one common attitude: “You bring many desires. You speak numerous languages. But starting today we are going to communicate with each other in the language of the Gospel. This is a language of love, brotherhood, solidarity and peace”.

Collective prayer was the young people’s response to both the barbaric killing of Fr Jacques Hamel in Rouen and to the sowing of hatred and of death that has lately been affecting Europe, which seems to have no boundaries. “Among us”, Cardinal Dziwisz said in his homily, “are also young people from countries whose people are suffering due to wars and other kinds of conflicts, where children are starving to death and where Christians are brutally persecuted. Among us are young pilgrims from parts of the world that are ruled by violence and blind terrorism”. He then directed a message of hope to everyone: “’We can do all things through Him who strengthens us’ (Phil 4:13). We can face the challenges of the modern world, in which man chooses between faith and disbelief, good and evil, love and its rejection”. This can be done, he added, through carrying “the spark of mercy”.

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