(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continues his Apostolic journey to Korea which began August 13th and ends on August 18th. This marks his first visit to Asia, a continent where 60% of the world’s population lives. While on Saturday he presided over a beatification ceremony of 124 Korean martyrs in Seoul on Sunday he travelled by helicopter to Haemi, which lies 102 kilometres south west of this capital city, to preside over another solemn celebration: the concluding Mass to mark the 6th Asian Youth Day. At the end of the Mass Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the Federation of the Asian Bishop's Conference, announced that Indonesia would be the venue for the 7th Asian Youth Day in 2017.
The venue for Sunday's Holy Mass was the square in front of the Castle there, first built to defend the population from pirates back in 1421, in 1490 it became a military stronghold with barracks and prisons within its compound. It was here that almost three thousand Christians were detained during the anti- Christian persecutions of the XIX century. The walls of the castle are two kilometers long and the vast area within can hold up to 200.000 people.
On this occasion young people from across Asia gathered there to be part of Sunday’s congregation on this very special occasion as Sean Patrick Lovett reports.
Listen to Sean- Patrick Lovett's report focusing on the homily of Pope Francis during the concluding Mass of the 6th Asian Youth Day :
“Asian Youth! Wake up!”
Here in Korea, everywhere you look, you see this slogan – in every shape, size and form: on banners fluttering from lampposts and draped across skyscrapers, on caps, t-shirts and coffee-cups. It flashes across TV screens and is emblazoned upon anything and everything associated with these Asian Youth Day celebrations.
So no one was surprised when Pope Francis focussed on the individual words of this slogan during his homily at the Mass closing the 6th Asian Youth Day, using his familiar 3-point catechetical approach, and confirming some of his favourite inspirational themes.
As “Asians”, he said, “you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies. Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life”. “As Christians”, he continued, “you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures. You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith…and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death”.
As “Youth”, said Pope Francis, “you are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period in life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love”. “As Christians”, he went on, “you are not only a part of the future of the Church, you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present”. The Pope urged the young people of Asia to keep close to one another, to God, and their Bishops, in order to build “a holier, more missionary and humble Church” that seeks “to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalised”.
As Asian Youth called to “Wake up!”, concluded the Pope, you have a responsibility and a duty “to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel”. No one can do anything if they are asleep, improvised Pope Francis in English, repeating again and again the challenge to “Wake up!”.
In Seoul, I’m Seàn-Patrick Lovett.
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