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500,000 participate in opening of World Youth Day in Rio

Catholic World News - July 24, 2013

More than 500,000 young people gathered at Copacabana beach on July 24 as Archbishop Joao Tempesta presided at the formal opening of the 28th World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations in Rio de Janeiro.

“This week Rio has become the center of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant,” Archbishop Tempesta said in his homily at the opening Mass. Reminding the young congregation that the theme of WYD involves spreading the Gospel, he said: “We are called to be agents for a new world.”

The huge congregation assembled despite heavy rains that swept through Rio, and despite a breakdown in the city’s subway system that led to serious snarls in automobile traffic. The inclement weather forced several minor changes in the WYD schedule.

Pope Francis, who spent the day on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida (see today’s separate CWN headline story), followed the opening ceremonies on television. His spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi reported that the Pontiff was impressed with the size of the congregation braving the rain. The Pontiff will join the WYD participants on Thursday, July 26.

During the first three days of the WYD gathering, participants will be able to listen to catechetical presentations by 250 different bishops, drawn from all around the world. These sessions will be held at different locations scatters across Rio de Janeiro, with talks in Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian, French, German, Polish, Arabic, and a dozen other languages.

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