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Over 400,000 already registered for World Youth Day in Madrid

Catholic World News - June 28, 2011

More than 400,000 people have already registered to participate in the World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations in Spain in August, Vatican officials disclosed at a press conference on June 28.

Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said that 14,000 priests and 744 bishops are expected to accompany the young people who assembly in Madrid for the WYD festivities, which open on August 16.

Organizers have recruited 24,000 volunteers, arranged 250 catechetical conferences, and ordered 700,000 copies of YouCat, the catechism prepared especially for young people.

WYD, said Cardinal Rylko, is “an epiphany of the Christian faith which has truly planetary dimensions.” He added: “And young people, especially in the old and profoundly secularized continent of Europe, have particular need of all this.”

In his message for World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI also alluded to the rising power of secularism in Europe. He pointed out that the last time WYD was held in Spain, in 1989, the event was soon followed by the fall of the Berlin Wall and eventually the disintegration of the Soviet empire. Now, he said, WYD was coming to Spain at another historical watershed, “at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots.”

In his message the Pope did not comment specifically on Spanish public affairs, but tensions between the Church and Spain’s liberal secularist government have formed the background for this year’s WYD. Church officials clearly hope that the fervor inspired by the WYD gathering will have some influence on the opinions of young Spaniards—as well as on the rising generation across Europe.

In his WYD message Pope Benedict encouraged young people to maintain their ideals. Recalling his own youth, the Pope said that “we were not willing to settle for a conventional, middle-class life. We wanted something great, something new.” The Pontiff urged the youth of today to maintain the same natural attitude, and “yearn for something truly greater.”

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