Twenty-four years ago, in February 1986, here in Manila there was a celebration of newfound freedom, a time of great joy that remains in the memory of your people and that is not forgotten elsewhere across the world, either. Our first meeting in Manila, in February 1991, was marked by this.
It was a time of enthusiasm; now we are instead in a time of decision and perseverance.
Today, are we thinking enough about the meaning of freedom? Freedom means being able to choose where to set our priorities. Freedom means not giving in to negative tendencies in ourselves. Freedom also enables us to fight against poverty, against the structures of injustice in our societies.
Freedom also means being able to express our faith. During our visit to China, several people told us about the suffering that their parents or grandparents endured for the faith. Let us keep those Chinese Christians in our prayers.
This evening I would like to say a special word to the young people of the Philippines. In your country, the Christian faith has a long history. Throughout the centuries deep roots have developed among you which have allowed your people to keep trusting in God in spite of trials. Often these roots are linked to your family and the parish where you grew up.
Today some of you are trying to renew the expressions of faith, and that is good. Outward expressions can change. Sometimes they have to change, so that the light of faith can shine with new luster.
But this search will only succeed if it goes hand in hand with an understanding of your past. This is a challenge: to create something new while finding support in tradition. Our small Taizé Community would like to remain alongside you in your searching.
The light the children have just lit and that we passed to one another is a sign of the resurrection.
That flame of peace exists to shine on all human beings. So we want to look for ways, quite humbly, of responding to the call to transform the world, to combat poverty, to promote sharing, solidarity, the responsible use of the resources of our planet.
Yes, the light of peace is for everyone. And it leads our community to continue the “pilgrimage of trust on earth” with young people from all continents. This pilgrimage includes meetings in Asia, Africa, Europe and America. Why? Christians know that Christ came to earth for all human beings without exception. Globalization, even with the ambiguities it entails, gives us new opportunities to express the universality of our communion in Christ. In this expansion, we can find the vitality to express our faith in a new way.
Yes, in faith we are pilgrims. For all of us there are and there will be trials along the road. At times they may seem to overwhelm us, so that even consolation from our family or friends will hardly affect us. So what can we do? Is not our response to personal trials, and to the trials endured by others, to love more? A song could then accompany us when we return home and throughout the journey of our life: Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where there is love, where we live to love, there we have the certainty that God is present.