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Benedict XVI in Loreto

A Look at the Agora Meeting

ROME, SEPT. 1, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is an overview of the Italian bishops' three-year plan to give special emphasis to youth ministry, titled the Agora of Italian Youth. The plan's program for this year is highlighted by Benedict XVI's meeting with youth taking place today and Sunday in Loreto, Italy.

The texts, including two interviews, are provided by the Fides news agency.

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Interview with Monsignor Paolo Giulietti, head of National Service for Youth Pastoral Ministry at the Italian bishops conference.

Q: Monsignor Giulietti, with what objectives did the March 2006 session of the bishops' standing council approve the proposal for a national path of special attention for the world of youth articulated in three years: the Agora of young Italians?

Monsignor Giulietti: The objectives were many within the framework of renewed attention on the part of the Catholic community for the world of youth. The bishops defined young people a "pastoral priority" and the "Agora dei giovani italiani" intends to concretize this statement.

Hopefully it will lead to greater educational effort on the part of the community, serious efforts to invest in human and material resources to offer young people space for more participation in Church life and new missionary impulse with the involvement of the young people themselves.

Q: The Agora at Loreto is also dedicated to the theme of creation. What is the best way to educate young people to respect creation and nature?

Monsignor Giulietti: It is important on the one hand to intensify knowledge and motivation, anchoring attention for nature to a sound Christian vision of the relationship between man and creation; on the other hand it is decisive to offer young people the proposal of realistic and practical actions in day to day living -- small individual and community actions that can improve the present situation and generate hope for the future. It is important to realize that we are all responsible for creation, we must not wait for someone else to solve the problem for us.

Q: Benedict XVI has confirmed his presence at Loreto. After the World Youth Day in Cologne this is the second major event he dedicates to young people. What do they expect from the meeting with the Holy Father? In your opinion why did the Pope accept to insert the meeting in Loreto among his appointments?

Monsignor Giulietti: The Pope -- as he said on June 17 in Assisi -- is anxious to be with young people, dialogue with them, propose the "great yes" of the Christian faith as the answer to their longing for a truly human life. He has confidence in the new generations and entrusts them with the mission to carry the Gospel to their peers.

For us the Pope's presence in Loreto almost puts a seal on this three-year path, to which he will make a fundamental contribution in contents and motivation. In particular, the meeting with the Holy Father will be the celebration of a year devoted to listening and will open the year devoted to proclamation in interpersonal relations.

Q: Mission is an integral part of the life of faith. It is possible in your opinion that young people today still sense the urgency to communicate the Gospel of Christ to their peers? How can we kindle in young people a desire for mission?

Monsignor Giulietti: Mission is not something to do, it is more a way of being: Communicating with word and deed the beauty, the greatness of the experience of an encounter with Christ who makes life new. It is possible to kindle missionary impulse if we help young people to view their ordinary life with new eyes and to live it in an "extraordinary" manner. Naturally it is necessary to rethink the words and ways to speak of this at work, at school, at leisure time for witness to be effective. The problem of little missionary spirit is due too often to dis-incarnated formation and spirituality.

Q: The Church often organizes meetings and appointments but there is little real faith life in our country especially among young people. In your opinion are these great rallies helpful for the faith of young people or not?

Monsignor Giulietti: To say there is little real faith life in the country would appear to me to be a generic statement: We have many young people who live their Christian faith with consistence. Some experienced the decisive moment in their journey of faith precisely at one of these great gatherings. I do not think we can say these great events are of no use; instead we must say that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach them. If well prepared, young people who take part can benefit greatly; if left to improvisation, participation can be disappointing. The event is an opportunity, a channel, and it is up to us to use it well."

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