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Pope exhorts young not to have fear


Shortly before heading to a Catholic youth celebration in Canada, Pope John Paul II urged young people Sunday not to be afraid in a world shaken by the 11 September terror attacks and conflict in the Middle East.

The 82-year-old addressed the young yesterday, calling them "the future and hope of the Church and of humanity."

"The tragic events of last 11 September and of the conflict in the Holy Land have thrown a dark shadow over the world," he said. "But Jesus exhorts his disciples to not have fear, and he repeats to them: 'You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world.'

"Young Christians who will meet in Toronto are ready to respond to Christ: 'Here we are.'"

John Paul, who has appeared increasingly weak in recent months, arrived at his palace in this lakeside town outside Rome two weeks ago, and seems to have gained some strength from his rest here. For the first time, he has held his Wednesday general audiences here to spare himself the commute to Vatican City.

The pope's trip to Canada, Guatemala and Mexico lasts from Tuesday until 2 August.

"God willing, I will leave the day after tomorrow to meet the boys and girls who, coming from every corner of the Earth, will converge on Toronto," he said. "I go to pray with them, be joyful and have together with them an enriching experience of faith."

SOURCE
AP

22 Jul 2002