(ALC) Eighty thousand Protestant, Orthodox and Roman Catholic young people from all European countries met together to hold a prayer vigil to mark the beginning of the new year.
The event is the 20th such vigil organised by the French Taize community, according to the Catholic agency Zenit.
Brother Roger, an 83-year-old Catholic priest of Protestant origin who leads the Taize community, gave a message of optimism to the young people during the five-day meeting.
The Gospel, said Roger, never offers a pessimistic view about the human being. To the contrary, it awakens a serene joy. In the face of suffering the heart can break, but does not grow hard.
Recalling the death of Mother Teresa, Roger indicated that there are visible places of death in Calcutta, but in the West young people find themselves in places of invisible death, marked the breakdown of relationships and concern about the future. Many ask, Why do we exist?; Does life have any meaning?. However, God gives meaning to our lives, even through that within us which is vulnerable," said Brother Roger.
Pope John Paul II, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders sent greetings to the meeting.
Some 3,000 Russian and Ukrainian young people attended the meeting. Participants were billeted in thousands of Austrian homes and some 300 parishes in Vienna. The meetings were held in the Exposition Park and consisted in a common prayer, translated into 20 languages.
The Taize community has been organising these youth events for the past 20 years in different cities.