08/07/2017, 17.22
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Pope Francis sends message to mark end of Asian Youth Day

by Mathias Hariyadi

The pontiff calls on young Asians to look at the Mother of the Lord, and listen “ever more attentively to God’s call and respond with faith and courage to their vocation.” More than 20,000 Catholics from the island of Java join participants for the AYD’S closing ceremony. The 8th edition is slated for India, in 2020.

Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – Card Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, sent a message on behlf of Pope Francis to the young people who took part in the 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD 2017) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on the theme of "Joyful Asian youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia’.

The Catholic youth meeting, which attracted more than 2,000 participants from 22 Asian countries, ended yesterday with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the presence of the leaders of the Catholic Church of Asia and senior Indonesian government officials.

In his message, the pope urged young people to be “ever more attentively to God’s call and respond with faith and courage to their vocation “.

Before giving his Apostolic Blessing, the pontiff called on young Asians to look at the Mother of the Lord as a "model of missionary discipleship" and "speak to her as they would a mother,’ as well as “trust always in her loving intercession."

More than 20,000 Catholics from the island of Java, along with AYD participants, took part in the closing ceremony (pictures 1 and 2), held at the Indonesian Air Force Academy in Yogyakarta. The service was led by Card Oswald Gracias of Mumbai (India).

Card Louis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila (Philippines), Card Patrick D'Rozario, archbishop of Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Card Julius Darmaatmadja, archbishop Emeritus of Jakarta (Indonesia), co-celebrated the function.

In his homily, Mgr Ignatius Suharyo, archbishop of Jakarta and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), mentioned the spiritual experience of St Theresa Benedicta of the Cross and of a Javanese catechumen. He urged AYD delegates to bear "witness" to God’s glory.

The latter “sometimes manifests itself in the face and heart of humans who can transform hardship into a biblical joy,” Mgr Suharyo.

The archbishop of Jakarta urged young people to stand together and united despite their differences on the basis of three Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love.

In a reference to St Irenaeus’s famous line, Gloria Dei, vivens homo (The glory of God is a living human), the archbishop said, “May all of us be blessed with the joy of biblical virtues so that our daily life may be enriched and shine the glory of God that has made it possible to spiritually improve our lives.”

At the end of the ceremony, the KWI president made a plea for peace and coexistence, a very current topic in Indonesian society and politics. In recent months, a number of incidents of intolerance against religious minorities have been recorded in Indonesia.

Despite the Islamist push by some radical political movements and political parties, many civil society groups have reiterated the need to defend pluralism, the foundation of the Indonesian nation.

The Catholic Church plays an important role in interfaith dialogue, and the AYD became an important venue for this, with some moderate Muslim organisations and several Muslim leaders taking part in the event.

Important government officials (pictured 3) were present at the closing ceremony, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Youth and Sport Minister Imam Nahrawi, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan, and Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X. Provincial army and police chiefs as well as the governor of the Indonesian Air Force Academy were also present.

In his address, Mgr Suharyo praised the national values of the founding fathers and invited young people to become peacemakers.

Indonesian Vice President Kalla spoke reiterating the spirit of pluralism and mutual respect the nation needs.

"We Indonesians know very well our national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity). It means that our power lies in our diversity,” he explained.

The vice president then praised the spirit of AYD. "I am proud to be here with all of you, for I am well aware that the future of Asian nations lies in the hands of young people."

At the sound of a gong, a traditional Javanese musical instrument, the vice president finally declared the 7th edition of AYD closed.

Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Federation of Asia Bishops' Conferences (FABC), announced that the 8th edition would be held in India in 2020 (pictured 4).

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