Paris, France (1997)

Date: 19-24 August 1997

Pontificate: John Paul II

Theme: “Teacher, where are you staying? Come and see” (cf. John 1:38-39)

Song: Maitre et Seigneur (Master and Lord)

This time the pope called the young people to come together in the heart of Europe. It was the homeland of secularism, even if at the service of freedom, fellowship and equality which are an essential part of Christianity itself. The response was clear and a real human chain of young people came for WYD and surrounded Paris with a big hug 36 km long. In his message, the pontiff wanted to emphasise that, although everything can change and transform around us, the Word of God remains constant and does not change. It goes out to meet history and make it fruitful. “With Jesus, the question is always turned upside down: from questioners, we become questioned; we seek and we discover that we are being sought. God has always loved us first (cf. 1John 4:10). When we meet God, we are not dealing with something, but with Someone, with the ‘Living One’. Christians are not disciples of a system of philosophy: they are men and women of faith who have experienced an encounter with Christ (cf. 1John 1:1-4).” It is Jesus who takes the initiative, and this is important in understanding “Where do you live?”, the theme of WYD. The pope’s words encourage young people to take a step towards something important in which they can place their trust. He said, “Do not be afraid to draw near to Jesus, to cross the threshold of his dwelling, to speak with him, face to face, as you talk with a friend (cf. Exodus 33:11). Do not be afraid of the ‘new life’ that Jesus is offering. (…) Jesus is a demanding friend. He points to lofty goals; he asks us to go out of ourselves in order to meet him and entrust our lives to him because ‘whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it’ (Mark 8:35).  This might seem to be quite challenging and perhaps a little daunting, but – I ask you – is it better to be resigned to a life without ideals, to a world made in our image and likeness, or alternatively, to generously seek truth, goodness and justice, and to work for a world that reflects the beauty of God, even if you have to face the trials that it entails? Break down the barriers of superficiality and fear! Recognise yourselves as ‘new’ men and women.”

All of the Holy Father’s speeches in Paris:

Summary based on the data sheet published by, organ of the Diocese of Rieti.