Thank you, dear Brother Alois, for your kind words full of affection. Dear young people, dear pilgrims of trust, welcome to Rome!
You have come in great numbers, from all over Europe and from other continents, to pray at the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. In this city, in fact, both shed their blood for Christ. The faith that animated these 2 great Apostles of Jesus is also the faith that put them on their journey. During the year that is about to begin you propose to liberate the sources of trust in God to live them daily. I am glad that in this way you encounter the intention of the Year of Faith, which began in October.
It is the fourth time that you hold a European gathering in Rome. On this occasion I would like to repeat the words that my predecessor, Bl. John Paul II spoke to the young people during your third meeting in Rome: “The Pope is profoundly engaged with you on this pilgrimage of trust on earth ... I too am called to be a pilgrim of trust in the name of Christ” (December 30, 1987).
[Following these remarks to the Taizé pilgrims, the Holy Father greeted them in various languages. In English he said:]
Just over seventy years ago, Brother Roger established the Taizé Community. Thousands of young people from all over the world continue to go there to seek meaning for their lives. The Brothers welcome them to share in their prayer and provide them with an opportunity to experience a personal relationship with God. It was to support these young people on their journey to Christ that Brother Roger had the idea of starting a “pilgrimage of trust on earth.”
A tireless witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation, ardently committed to an ecumenism of holiness, Brother Roger encouraged all those who passed through Taizé to become seekers of communion. We should listen in our hearts to his spiritually lived ecumenism, and let ourselves be guided by his witness towards an ecumenism which is truly interiorized and spiritualized. Following his example, may all of you be bearers of this message of unity. I assure you of the irrevocable commitment of the Catholic Church to continue seeking the paths of reconciliation leading to the visible unity of Christians. And so this evening I greet with special affection those among you who are Orthodox or Protestants.
[In French he said:]
Today Christ poses to you the question that he addressed to his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” In answer to this question Peter, at whose tomb we now find ourselves, said: “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:15-16). And his whole life became a concrete answer to this question. Christ wishes to receive from each of you too an answer that is not forced or from fear but from the depths of your freedom. It is in replying to this question that your life will find its greatest meaning. The text of the Letter of St. John that we have sought to understand makes us see with great simplicity how to respond: “believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another” (3:23). Believe God and love him and others! What could be better? What could be more beautiful?
During these days in Rome, you can let the yes to Christ grow in your hearts, profiting especially from the long period of silence that has a central place in your communal prayer after listening to the Word of God. According to the Second Letter of Peter, this Word is “like a shining lamp in a dark place,” to which it is good for you to be attentive “until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (1:19). You understand this: if the morning star must rise in your hearts, it does not always do so. Sometimes evil and the suffering of the innocent cause doubt and worry in you. And the yes to Christ can become difficult. But this doubt does not take away your faith! Jesus does not reject the man in the Gospel who says: “I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
[Concluding in French he said:]
Be full of hope! May God bless you and your families and friends!