VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's solemn Eucharistic celebration for Palm Sunday, the Pope prayed the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Before the Marian prayer the Pope recalled how in 1985, to coincide with the International Year for Young People called by the United Nations, John Paul II had instituted the World Youth Days, which are celebrated every year on Palm Sunday with an additional international gathering of young people every three years.

"Twenty-five year ago my beloved predecessor invited young people to profess their faith in Christ", said Benedict XVI. "Today I renew this appeal to the new generations to bear witness, with the mild but luminous power of truth, that the men and women of the third millennium may not lack their most authentic model: Jesus Christ".

After the Angelus prayer, the Pope addressed some remarks to young people: "Do not be afraid when following Christ leads to misunderstandings and affronts. Serve Him in the weakest and most disadvantaged people, especially your own peers in difficulties. In this contest, I wish to give assurances of my special prayers for World Autism Awareness Day, promoted by the UN, which falls on 2 April".

The Holy Father then turned his attention to Jerusalem, "where the Paschal Mystery was fulfilled", saying: "I am deeply pained by the recent clashes and the tension that has again arisen in that city, which is the homeland of Christians, Jews and Muslims, a prophecy and promise of the universal reconciliation God desires for the entire human family.

"Peace", he added in conclusion, "is a gift that God entrusts to human responsibility, to be cultivated through dialogue, respect for the rights of all, reconciliation and forgiveness. Let us pray, then, that those responsible for the fate of Jerusalem may courageously start down the road of peace and follow it with perseverance".

ANG/WYD JERUSALEM/...                                               VIS 100329 (330)

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