Pope Benedict XVI in his New Yearâ€™s homily yesterday praised young people as key to securing a future of hope despite what he called â€œshadows on the horizon of todayâ€™s worldâ€.In the splendour of St Peterâ€™s Basilica, with ambassadors to the Holy See from dozens of countries seated in the front rows, the pontiff, wearing white vestments with gold-coloured trimmings, celebrated Mass on a day the Vatican dedicates to world peace.
â€œI would like to underline the fact that, in the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of todayâ€™s world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope,â€ the pontiff said.
Young people, he said, must â€œlearn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding.
Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent.â€
But they will become â€œbuilders of peaceâ€ if properly educated, he predicted.
The 84-year-old pope looked tired during Mass, but his voice was strong, and he smiled and chatted briefly with families and young children who carried gifts to him during the ceremony.
As he has for the past few months, Benedict used a wheeled platform, guided by ushers, to move down the basilicaâ€™s long aisle. The Vatican has said the device is meant to cut down on exertion, but is not employed because of any medical reason.
While citing the â€œshadowsâ€ hanging over humanity, the pontiff did not mention specific conflicts or the economic crisis afflicting many countries.
But after Mass, in remarks in English from his studio window overlooking St Peterâ€™s Square, jammed with tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims, Benedict invited all to pray with him â€œearnestly for peace throughout the world, for reconciliation and forgiveness in areas of conflict, and for a more just and equitable distribution of the worldâ€™s resourcesâ€.
Again, turning his attention to young people, Benedict said they â€œlook today with a certain apprehension toward the futureâ€, with their concerns including â€œthe difficulty in starting a family and finding a stable jobâ€.
Italyâ€™s president, whose country is seeking to avoid financial disaster that could worsen the euro-zone crisis, did mention the bad times in comments on Benedictâ€™s reflections.
President Giorgio Napolitano said he shared the pontiffâ€™s â€œinvitation to look at 2012 with a trusting attitude, even though the sense of frustration for the crisis assailing society, the work world and the economy is quite understandableâ€ – AP