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Pope warns Russian youth against hedonism, drugs

Pope John Paul II warned young people in Russia not to squander hard-won freedoms by following the false idols of hedonism and drugs.

"Do not allow the freedoms your dear nation has won back with the price of great sacrifice and suffering to be squandered away by giving in to false ideals," he said in a written message released by the Vatican on Wednesday.

Many youths in Russia today are "often distracted by the mirages of an easy and comfortable life, by the temptations of drugs and hedonism, often ending up as slaves to violence, meaninglessness and desperation," he said.

Young people need now more than ever to see other young people's "radical loyalty" to Christ and the Gospel, he said.

The Holy Father's remarks came in a written message for an August a nationwide gathering of Catholic young people taking place until Sunday in Russia's Siberian city of Irkutsk. The meeting, promoted by the nation's bishops, was part of Russia's preparations for World Youth Day 2005 next August in Cologne, Germany.

Meanwhile the Pope is preparing for his weekend trip to Lourdes, the French shrine associated with miraculous cures.

The Vatican says he is not seeking a cure for his illnesses, but making a pastoral visit.

"I consider the possibility of returning to Lourdes a special gift of providence," the pope told pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo on Wednesday.

The pope visited the sanctuary in 1983 after recovering from a 1981 assassination attempt.

French bishops say up to 300,000 pilgrims are expected in the town near the Pyrenees Mountains. The shrine attracts six million people a year who come to drink and bathe in the waters from the grotto where St Bernadette is said to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary in 1858.

Pope warns Russian youth not to follow false idols of hedonism, drugs (Catholic News Service 11/8/04)
Ailing Pope to Visit Shrine at Lourdes (Associated Press/The Guardian 12/8/04)

Pope says people must recognize existence, influence of sin (Catholic News Service 11/8/04)
Ailing Pope Will Preach Peace on Lourdes Visit (Reuters 12/8/04)
Ailing Pope to Visit Shrine at Lourdes (Associated Press/The Guardian 12/8/04)
As Pope visits Lourdes, La Vang Marian Sanctuary expected to receive 100,000 pilgrims ( 12/8/04)
Pope visits shrine at Lourdes (Associated Press/Cnews 12/8/04)
Pilgrims flock to Lourdes for Pope's weekend visit (AFP/Channel News Asia 12/8/04)
Ailing Pope to Visit Shrine at Lourdes (Associated Press/ 12/8/04)
Pope plans rare honour for Lourdes shrine (CathNews 12/8/04)
Pope sends blessings to Olympics (Independent Catholic News 11/8/04)
Pope's frailty complicates travel plans (Catholic World News 11/8/04)
French tighten security for Pope's Lourdes visit (Catholic World News 11/8/04)
Pope prepares for Lourdes, says sanctuary reminds Christians of need for conversion (Catholic News Agency 11/8/04)
Pope urges Russian youth to reject temptations, false ideals; says the Church needs witnesses (Catholic News Agency 11/8/04)
Pope reveals why he is going on pilgrimage to Lourdes ( 11/8/04)
Pope set to follow pilgrim trail to Lourdes (CathNews 11/8/04)
Website offers prayer by proxy for pope's visit to Lourdes (Yahoo/AFP 8/8/04)
Pope's Lourdes pilgrimage to praise God, not seek healing (CathNews 2/8/04
Official Lourdes website
Pope claims to carry 'hopes of world' to Lourdes (Expatica/AFP 11/8/04)
France's Town of Miracles (Expatica/AFP 11/8/04)

13 Aug 2004