VATICAN (CWN) -- Pope John Paul II will meet with 50,000 young people on Thursday at the basilica of St. John Lateran, in preparation for the celebration of World Youth Day on Sunday, April 5. The meeting is part of the preparation for the World Youth Day celebration in the year 2000, in Rome.

      A preparatory meeting for that 2000 encounter is taking place in Rome this week. As part of that preparation, the meeting on Thursday will feature personal testimony and artistic performances as well as the appearance by Pope John Paul. On Saturday the young participants will form a procession through Rome, from the historic Piazza del Popolo to St. Peter's Square, carrying the ceremonial Cross that has become a central symbol of World Youth Day.

      That Cross, conveyed to the young people of the world by Pope John Paul II, has been carried to each of the 6 cities that have hosted World Youth Day celebrations: Buenos Aires in 1976, St. James de Compostela in 1989, Czestochowa in 1991, Denver in 1993, Manila in 1995, and Paris in 1997. It will remain in Rome for the celebration there in the Jubilee Year 2000.

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April 1, 1998 volume 9, no. 65         DAILY CATHOLIC