Speech of His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, at the opening ceremony of the Meeting of the Orthodox Youth from All Over the World, Bucharest, 1 September 2016:
These days we rejoice with the 2,500 young people, coming from different countries, who, from 1 to 4 September 2016, are our guests in the Meeting of Orthodox Youth from All Over the World, event organised by the Archdiocese of Bucharest and the Romanian Patriarchate, in the context of the Solemn Year of Religious Education of the Christian Orthodox Youth.
Our meeting in Bucharest aims at formatting young people through their participation in educational, spiritual, cultural and artistic programs. The program is a rich one and comprises: the first Divine Liturgy celebrated at the site of the National Cathedral; a spiritual conference; two workshops on the topic The importance of youth and their work in the Church; artistic events; visits to the main tourist attractions in Bucharest. Through workshops we seek to create an appropriate framework in which you, our beloved guests, may identify problems specific to the generation you belong to and to propose possible solutions.
The challenges affecting young people, coming from a secularised and globalised society – impoverished of spiritual values, subject to continuous changes, economic and moral crises: emigration, alcohol, drugs, libertinism, violence etc. – represent another reason to raise the awareness of the role and importance of the Family, the Church and the School in the formation of young Christians. The aspirations of the young generation for what is good and beautiful must be supported by the whole society, which has the responsibility to guide the young people and cultivate their confidence, to love spiritual, moral and cultural perennial values. The Family, the Church and the School have the duty to provide a Christian education for the young people in order to cultivate the faith as a light of daily life, as well as the love towards God and fellow human beings.
The Romanian Orthodox Church is trying to address the formation needs of young people through programs and projects carried out both in our country and abroad, personalised to each community, such as: the National Catechetical Program Christ offered to children; the educational Project Choose the School!; youth camps; pilgrimages; scholarships and many social activities taking place in parishes. Through all of them, we cultivate self-confidence and confidence in others, respect and love of people and of nature – God’s creation –; we strengthen the communion life of the young people, Christian solidarity, friendship, a sense of belonging and respect for the Church, national identity and dignity in international dialogue.
But what it is and remains essential in all these activities must be the joy that the meeting of young people with the love of Christ offers both in prayer and in action, in working together in order to bring joy to people. Since the Risen Christ is “The eternal Joy“, “The Light of the World” and “The Good Shepherd“, the Apostle to the Gentiles urges us: Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).
At the same time, we encourage you to cultivate joyfully the love for the Christian family, which can be found only in the Church, because here it has the value of an icon of Christ’s love for humanity, while the saints of the Church are models of life in Christ praying for all young people from the entire world.
With these thoughts, we welcome you to the Meeting of Orthodox Youth from All Over the World and pray the Most Holy Trinity to give you holy joy, in fraternal communion and friendship.
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church