A crowded St. Peter’s square was host to more than 5,000 Spanish pilgrims who were the new successors of the cross passed down from the youth of Australia. Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, and his Spanish counterpart Cadinal Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, both attended the ceremony.
It’s been 25 years that the World Youth Cross has been passed on from group to group. The cross, along with the icon of Our Lady, will travel though all of Spain and end on August 16, 2011 on World Youth Day.
Pope Benedict, who spoke during the homily about the value of the cross in finding one’s way, has always recalled the significance of the cross during World Youth Days.
This handover assumes a highly symbolic value which we use to express our eternal gratitude to God for the gifts we received during our great meeting in Sydney and for those gifts we will pass on in Madrid. May this cross and this Icon of Mary be an invincible sign of the love of Christ and our Holy Mother.
When the Palm Sunday ceremony ended, the pope asked all countries to sign on to the convention of the prohibition of the use of anti-personnel landmines. His plea comes a day after the United Nations’ International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
The Pope also asked the European Union and African countries to forge a strategic relationship so as to help avoid the deaths of more immigrants that try to reach Europe’s coasts.