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Pope Urges Youth to Have Hope in Jesus

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Pope Urges Youth to Have Hope in Jesus

Pope Urges Youth to Have Hope in Jesus

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Jacki Lyden. Andrea Seabrook is away.

Pope Benedict XVI continues his American tour in New York today, the third anniversary of his election as pontiff.

He started the day with a mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York. This afternoon, he's at a rally in suburban Yonkers with more than 20,000 young people.

One of them was 17-year-old Maggie Santangelo(ph).

Ms. MAGGIE SANTANGELO: I don't really know that much about him, but what I do know, I like so far. I mean, he's trying to reach out to a lot of people that I feel like normally wouldn't have gotten the message.

I have a feeling a lot of teenagers get lost nowadays, so I think this is, like, really good.

LYDEN: NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty has been following the pope at the rally and joins us. Barbara, give us a sense of the atmosphere.

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Well, I - Jacki, you should see it. It's a sea of young people, 20,000 teens and young adults, 2,000 seminarians. It's hot, it's dusty, it's windy. They had to entertain these teens for five hours before the pope came there, and they entertained them with rock stars like Third Day and Kelly Clarkson. In fact, several people mentioned that Clarkson was almost as big a draw as the pope.

LYDEN: Well, of course, this pope was very conservative when he was still cardinal and in charge of the Doctrine of the Faith. What about now? What's the pope's message?

HAGERTY: Well, what he is urging these kids is to take the liturgy seriously. He's talking about the fact that the culture that they grow up in is filled with drugs, poverty, racism and relativism. As you know, relativism is kind of his major foe, and what he's saying is that the remedy is the - for them to have hope in Jesus and to practice their faith.

He also said something really, really interesting, Jacki. He speaks about the culture he grew up in when he was a teenager, which was Germany under Hitler, and the culture was, as he put it, quote, "marred by its sinister regime that thought that all the answers - it had all the answers" and infiltrated society before it was recognized as, quote, "the monster that it was."

So it's really a very candid talk. We don't hear him talking much about his own past. It's very interesting.

LYDEN: Speaking of candor, he's made news a few times on this trip, speaking to people hurt by the clergy sex abuse scandal. He's met with survivors of that, and he's hinted that the Vatican might make some changes to the rules for how it handles sex abuse cases. Anything more on that?

HAGERTY: Well, yes. Yesterday, Cardinal William Levada, who's the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the Vatican is considering changing the canon laws to handle the sex abuse claims.

He didn't say much, but he did indicate that the Vatican could extend the time in which victims can bring an allegation. Now, currently that time is 10 years after a victim's 15th - excuse me, 18th birthday, but Levada said that many victims don't feel able to come forward for years or even decades, so the Vatican is considering extending the time.

LYDEN: Thanks very much. NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty, speaking to us from Saint Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York. Thanks again, Barbara.

HAGERTY: You're welcome.

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