VATICAN CITY – After the Angelus Sunday, with the help of a tablet and two young people, Pope Francis signed up for World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, announcing that registration for the international event has opened.
“I too, now, with two young people, sign up by means of the internet,” the pope said Feb. 11, clicking “register” on a tablet. “There, I have enrolled as a pilgrim to World Youth Day,” he announced.
“We have to prepare ourselves. I invite all the young people of the world to live with faith and enthusiasm this event of grace and fraternity, both [those] going to Panama and [those] participating in their communities.”
Pope Francis chose Panama to be the host of the next World Youth Day, an international gathering of youth which was started in 1985 by Pope St. John Paul II. Ordinarily held sometime in the summer months, in 2019 it will take place Jan. 22-27, to avoid Panama’s rainy season.
Before the Angelus, Francis spoke about the day’s Gospel, which tells of Jesus’ healing of a leper, noting that “in this context the World Day of the Sick is well placed.”
In the Old Testament, having leprosy made you unclean, and you would be separated from the community, Francis explained. Therefore, the leper in the Gospel of Mark would have felt unclean not only before other people, but also before God.
But Jesus is the true physician, and heals both our bodies and our souls, he said. Christ’s compassion and mercy move him to reach out to the man suffering from leprosy, to touch him and to say: “I will it, be cleansed!” the Pope said.
Francis said that in fact, it is not illness that makes us unclean, or that we should fear, but our sins. And that we all need healing from selfishness, pride and corruption, which are the “diseases of the heart from which we need to be cleansed.”
The pope then asked everyone present to take a moment of silence to look inside themselves, and to search out the impurities and the sins in their hearts. He also encouraged everyone to pray to God with the same words of the leper: “If you want, you can purify me.”
“Every time we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a repentant heart, the Lord also repeats to us: ‘I will it, be cleansed!’” Francis continued. “Thus the leprosy of sin disappears, we return to live with joy our filial relationship with God and we are readmitted fully into the community.”