08/12/2005, 00.00
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WYD: 1000 youths from Russia have already reached Germany

Mgr Kondrusiewicz: "Ask yourselves what to worship: the answer lies in the Eucharist".

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Once again they will set off to go to the pope, once again they will meet him in a country which is not their own, but their joy anyhow is great, and their expectations multifold. Around 1000 youths from Russia have left to attend the twentieth World Youth Day in Cologne. They are aged between 18 and 24 years and they come from all the dioceses of the country. For many, it is the first time they will see the pope; others had the chance to do so already months ago when they went on pilgrimage to Rome. All want above anything to welcome him in Moscow, according to those accompanying them. But the Russian Orthodox Church remains opposed to a papal trip to Russia, accusing the Vatican of proselytism.

In recent days the Moscow Metropolitan, Mgr Tadeusz Mgr Kondrusiewicz celebrated masses in the cathedral with a number of groups headed for Cologne. "On 9 August there were 100 people present for the service, about as many as those who attended another mass on 8 August, which was a group of overseas students leaving for Germany," he told AsiaNews. Mgr Kondrusiewicz said that outside the church there was a climate of "meditation but at the same time of great joy".

The Metropolitan explained that after he had chosen the most active youths, catechism in preparation for the trip started: "In April we started to organise a WYD in each diocese with meetings and times of prayer". Kondrusiewicz invited the youths to "reflect first of all about the theme of this WYD ("We have come to worship him"). He said: "In order not to get lost in the modern world it is necessary that young people ask themselves: 'what does man want to worship?' I suggested they search for the answer in God and above all in the Eucharist. The next step is to testify to this discovery and to share it with other youths they meet." According to the Metropolitan, today it is much easier for Russians to communicate: "All young people speak English very well".

Fr Sergei, one of those responsible for the group, said the "pilgrims will arrive in Cologne on 15 August; now they are divided in German parishes and dioceses where they are learning about the local culture with great enthusiasm. They are also finding out about the life of Catholics in this country and preparing songs and readings."

Kondrusiewicz said he has high hopes for the future of the Catholic Church in Russia, "sustained above all by the courage and enthusiasm of new generations". He added: "Youths are the future of the Church, of Russia, and of the world." He concluded by drawing attention to the problems that Russian youths often find themselves prey to: alcoholism, drugs, unemployment and the breakdown of family values with an increasing number of divorces.

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