01/06/2006, 00.00
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Epiphany: the pope "counts on" the prayer and mission of children, youth

At the Angelus, the pope drew attention to Children's Mission Day and the World Youth Day in Cologne. A greeting was extended to the Orthodox Churches who celebrate Christmas today.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The pope "counts on" children's prayers and their mission to help other children and to draw them to the Christian faith. Benedict XVI revealed this before the Angelus prayer this morning, addressing a crowd of around 50,000 people gathered to mark the feast of the Epiphany, when the Church celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the pagan peoples, represented by the Magi Kings.

Benedict XVI recalled that today is "Children's Mission Day", promoted by the Pontifical Missionary Works which hold thousands of activities "with the motto 'children helping children'", educating children and youth "to openness to the world" and to the plight of so many of their peers in "disadvantaged situations". And he added: "I too count on the prayers of children and on their active participation in the mission of the Church".

Benedict XVI also recalled the World Youth Day which took place in Cologne in August 2005; its theme was based precisely on the quote from the Magi, "We have come to worship him". He said: "That memorable event was a true 'epiphany'. In fact, the pilgrimage of youth, in its deepest sense, could be seen as a journey guided by the light of a 'star', by the light of faith." He said he wanted to "extend to the entire Church" the message he offered to "youth gathered on the banks of the Rhine" on 18 August: "Open your heart wide to God, I told them and I repeat today to all; allow yourselves to be surprised by Christ! Open the doors of your freedom to his merciful love! Lay down your joys and sorrows before Christ, allowing him to enlighten your mind with his light and touch your heart with his grace. I wish that all the Church would breathe in the atmosphere of the 'epiphany', as happened in Cologne, and of genuine missionary commitment prompted by the manifestation of Christ, light of the world, sent by God the Father to reconcile and unify mankind with the strength of love".

The Pope also turned his attention to "our loved brothers and sisters of the eastern Churches who, following the Julian calendar, celebrate holy Christmas today".

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