By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- On the seventh anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to one of his predecessor's innovations: World Youth Day.
Greeting an estimated 5,000 cheering young people from Spain April 2, Pope Benedict said they were "the protagonists and principal recipients of this pastoral initiative promoted vigorously by my beloved predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, whose passage to heaven we remember today."
The Spanish youths had come to the Vatican for the celebration of Palm Sunday April 1 and to thank the pope for visiting Madrid for World Youth Day last August. The Spanish delegation included the World Youth Day orchestra, which played during the papal audience.
While the pope was with the young people, Vatican officials and representatives of the Brazilian bishops' conference were holding a news conference to talk about plans for the next international celebration of World Youth Day, which will be held July 23-28, 2013, in Rio de Janeiro.
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