Dear young friends,

Together with all the Bishops, I would like to invite each and every one of you to participate in the World Youth Day in Krakow. This is an invitation to an extraordinary event that is extremely important for the entire world, for the Church and for our homeland.

  1. What’s so extraordinary? The fact that the gathering in Krakow responds to the basic human desire to establish ties. We want to have friends; we want to belong to a community; we are looking for intimacy and trust, because this experience opens us to the world and to others, thus leading to authentic love, which is the basis for building a strong family, the foundation of our future. The World Youth Day is a unique experience of community that will remain with you throughout your life.
  1. I am convinced that these World Days will help you to discover the beauty of life. Meeting young, enthusiastic people from all over the world will release great energy that will free you from banality, dullness, shallowness, monotony and routine. The incredible vitality of the young reminds you that people were created for great things: for the fullness of life and unending happiness. Each of you has been created with love and for love, and the fullness of life is impossible without the Supreme Love, which is God himself, as St. Augustine wrote: “Our heart is restless until it rests in You.”
  1. Today we easily lose the reference points, those pillars on which we want to build our life, and young people are experiencing uncertainty and fear that often lead to a sense of confusion and conformism; they are sensing the temporariness of momentary attractions that do not give true joy and do not lead us to God and people—in the midst of this context, the World Youth Days are an occasion to find one’s place in the Church and in the world, an opportunity to deepen the faith, a chance to find one’s place in the compassionate heart of Jesus. The secret of their attraction perhaps lies precisely in that fact. These will be days full of the experience of love; and, therefore, those who believe in Christ and also those who are undecided, who doubt or even do not believe in Christ, take part in them.
  1. The theme of the upcoming meeting will be the phrase from the Gospel of Matthew: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5,7). This blessing invites us to become a sign and an instrument of God’s mercy. It invites you to experience and transmit God’s mercy. It invites you to engage in one of the most difficult works of mercy: forgiveness. Forgive those who offend us, who have done us wrong, who let us down, those who have abandoned, betrayed, and all those whom we regard as enemies—that means opening a new chapter in your life. It means freeing yourself from grief, anger, sadness and revenge. It means living happily. Yes, mercy is the only way to overcome evil. Justice alone is not enough. Only justice combined with mercy is an effective tool for building the future.

Today, saints Sister Faustina and John Paul II invite us to their city of Krakow. For a few days, Krakow will be your town! It will be a city of young people looking for love and mercy. You will walk in the footsteps of the Apostles of Charity, as John Paul II said: “The spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God, the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness!” (Cf. Homily at the dedication of the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow on August 17, 2002).

  1. Dear young compatriots, once again, I invite you all most cordially to attend the meeting with the Holy Father Francis. I know that this decision may seem problematic to you. Many voices may try to discourage you and your parents. Do not trust them! Come to the meeting in Krakow together with your Bishops, your priests, your communities and church movements.

On this occasion, I would like to thank the dioceses, the youth pastors, parishes, shrines, religious communities, associations and church movements who, with dedication, prepared the Youth Days in the Dioceses. Special thanks go to those who have welcomed in their homes the guests coming to us from all over the world.

I thank the civil authorities very kindly joined in the process of preparing for this meeting.

Dear young people, the Church is counting on you! The Church and the world need your lively faith, your creative charity, and the vitality of your hope!

May Our Lady of Jasna Gora, our Mother and Queen, accompany you and intercede for each one of you, so that—thanks to the meeting with Pope Francis, the Peter of our times—you be new people, so that you may become the future of the Church and of our Homeland.

Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki
President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Warsaw, 25 July 2016