Monica Massarella introduces some key themes from Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter to the Youth of the World, Dilecti Amici.
From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II made young people his particular concern, addressing groups of young men and women both in Rome and on his pilgrim travels around the world. In 1985 Pope John Paul II announced the institution of World Youth Day (WYD), to be held in Rome in 1986. The second WYD, and the first international celebration was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1987.
In this way the World Youth Day was established which, for the last 28 years, has been celebrated every year at the diocesan level and at international gatherings every two year.
In 1996 Pope John Paul II reflected, “The principal objective of the Days is to make the person of Jesus the centre of the faith and life of every young person so that he may be their constant point of reference and also the inspiration of every initiative and commitment for the education of the new generations.” [i]
As catechists and teachers we can draw on an abundance of papal teaching addressed so particularly to young people in the messages, homilies, and speeches given by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. The remainder of this article will consider how the first half of the apostolic letter Dilecti Amici,[ii]—a foundational document of WYD, written by Pope John Paul II in 1985—to young people, may be used to catechise young people on the dignity of the human person, and the on meaning of life and vocation.