VATICAN (CWN) -- During a visit to a Rome parish on Sunday, March 29, Pope John Paul II delivered a plea to all Christians: "Do not abandon young people who are in trouble."

      The Holy Father's request came during a visit to the parish of Jesus Adolescent, on the outskirts of Rome. That parish, founded in 1977, includes the site of a center for troubled young people which was founded at the close of World War II at the request of Pope Pius XII.

      In words of encouragement for that effort, the Pope remarked on the duty to provide education for the young, who represent "the future of humanity." He added that the time and resources devoted to their education and their Christian formation should be regarded as "a valuable investment for the good of the Church and of society." Unfortunately, he continued, 50 years after this particular center was founded, "there is no lack of young people in difficulty: without work, without points of reference, involved in minor crimes, or left idle-- with all the risks that come with a disoriented existence."

      After the Angelus prayer, the Pope repeated his message of concern for young people as he mentioned the preparations being made in Rome for the 18th World Youth Day, which will be observed around the world on Palm Sunday, April 5. He pointed out that the city of Rome is expecting to welcome thousands of youngsters from Italy and France for the ceremonies.

      While speaking to the children of the parish, the Pope alluded to the approach of his own 80th birthday (which will occur May 18). "Youth is beautiful because it is a question of perspective," he said. "As I approach 80 years of age, is there another perspective? Yes: that of eternal life." He told them that this new perspective is also beautiful, because "By his Resurrection, Jesus Christ gave us the certainty that he has conquered death."

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

March 31, 1998 volume 9, no. 64         DAILY CATHOLIC