A NEW age has come for the young people to take their part as Christian “prophets” of God’s love. And this has been one of the major points of the recently concluded World Youth Day 2008.

This, Pope Benedict XVI stressed during the event held last July in Sydney, Australia.

“Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity,” the Supreme Pontiff said in one of his homilies in the world gathering, which was posted in the official website of the Vatican.

The Pope admitted that it is not an easy task to be messengers and witnesses of God, saying the mission could only be fulfilled through the Holy Spirit.

“How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said. Following his predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, he echoed the need for the proclamation of the Gospel in this time of technological outbursts.

“There are still many who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, while many others, for whatever reason, have not recognized in this Good News the saving truth that alone can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts,” ha said.

In this mission, the youth must remember that the Holy Spirit, though silent and unseen, gives them direction and definition to every Christian’s purpose, he said.

“Many young people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers,” Pope Benedict XVI said, adding that the youth are challenged by the arguments of those who deny the existence of God and they wonder how to respond.

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“The Spirit points us towards the way that leads to life, to love and to truth. The Spirit points us towards Jesus Christ… In him we find the answers that we are seeking, we find the goals that are truly worth living for, we find the strength to pursue the path that will bring about a better world,” the Pope said.

Thomasians in WYD

Thousands heard the Pope’s call, which resounded in 170 represented at the World Youth Day.

Among the sea of Christians that gathered to see the Pope, 11 Thomasian delegates – faculty members Priscilla Banag and Monica De Leon, alumni Sandy Aristorenas and Brittany Ngo, students Ayes De Velez, Pauline Ng, Denise Concepcion, and Carmela Maminta, Campus Ministry director Fr. Ramon Salibay, O.P., Vice Rector Fr. Pablo Benito Tiong, O.P., and Rowena Castro of Office of Student Affairs – participated in the celebration from July 15 to 20.

“The faith is already present, what happened was intensification,” Salibay said of the gathering.

Albert Loteyro, the Campus Ministry assistant to the director who also went to the event but not as a UST delegate, described the event as “a journey of faith, and in a journey you discover things.”

He said participating in the event was a memorable experience and having dinner with his host family’s children showed that Australians still valued the family. “Their Church is trying to bring enthusiasm to young people.”

Media’s role

The presence of thousands of young people from all over the world, sharing and celebrating their faith in one place, is indeed worthy of the media’s attention.

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However, some delegates noted media was mostly interested with the small group of protesters who wanted their objections be heard.

“The angle the media was trying to spin on the story seems absurd to someone who was there, singing and dancing in the brightly colored crowd,” Sophie Caldecott, a delegate from Durham University wrote in an article posted in www.zenit.org.

According to Caldecott, the protesters mainly belong to “gay community, people angry about cases of sexual abuse in the Church, atheists trying to ‘educate ignorant believers,’ Protestants who believe that the Catholic Church is the “whore of Babylon” and people who believe that condoms are the solution to AIDS.”

In spite of the negative feedbacks anchored on the media, Salibay expressed a different opinion. “It’s really fair; the media showed both sides,” he said.

Issues regarding the media coverage of World Youth Day are not new. In the last World Youth Day held in Germany in 2005, the international media focused on issues regarding HIV/AIDS prevention and ban of condoms.

It would now depend on the people how to look at this reality, Loteyro said.

“Having those protesters posts a challenge for Christians to be good, to practice what we preach,” Loteyro said. “What happened was an eye-opener for the Church to listen to.” C.A.P. Alcantara


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