Polish Bishops’ Conference head Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki in a televised address on Monday evening encouraged young people to meet with Pope Francis during World Youth Day (WYD) this week.

Archbishop Gadecki underlined that World Youth Day was „an extraordinary and extremely important event for the whole world, the Church and our country”.

„This meeting in Krakow will respond to your fundamental wish to form ties with others. We want to have friends; we want to belong to a community; we seek closeness and trust, and these experiences open us up to the world and other people. … World Youth Day is an experiencing of special community that will remain with us throughout our lives”, Archbishop Gadecki said.

The head of the Polish Bishops’ Conference (KEP) underlined that meeting enthusiastic young people from all over the world was a source of energy that freed people from dullness, shallowness and getting stuck in a rut.

It is easy to lose one’s points of reference and foundations on which to build one’s life in today’s troubled times, when young people experience uncertainty and fear, the archbishop also remarked. „In this situation, World Youth Day is an opportunity for people to find their proper place in the Church and the world, and a chance to deepen their faith”, he said.

Referring to the motto of this year’s WYD – „Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” – Archbishop Gadecki said that this blessing „invites us to become a sign and an instrument of God’s mercy, … invites us to one of the hardest acts of mercy, namely forgiveness”.

To forgive anyone who has offended, hurt, disappointed, abandoned or betrayed us „means opening a new chapter in our lives. … It means living in happiness. Yes, mercy is the only way to overcome evil. Justice is not enough. Only justice together with mercy is an instrument for building the future”, the archbishop continued.

He appealed to young people to come to Krakow, „the city of saints Sister Faustina and John Paul II”, to meet with Pope Francis.

Archbishop Gadecki thanked dioceses, parishes, sanctuaries, religious orders and church organisations and movements for preparing the days in dioceses, and Poland’s state authorities for joining in the preparations for the World Youth Day festivities.

World Youth Day will take place in Krakow, south Poland, and nearby Brzegi from July 26 to 31. Pope Francis will join the festivities on July 27.