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World Youth Day 2011: focus will be on pastoral care, not festivities

October 05, 2010

Vatican officials joined with leaders of the Madrid archdiocese in an October 5 press conference in Rome to outline plans for the World Youth Day celebration that will be held in the Spanish city in August 2011.

Cardinal Stansilaw Rylko, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, told reporters that Pope Benedict has insisted “World Youth Day should not be reduced merely to a moment of festivity.” Plans for the event will focus on the pastoral needs of the Church and the young people who attend, he said.

Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid agreed that World Youth Day “is a clear invitation addressed to all Spanish society to draw near to Christ and His Church.” He added: “If manage to reveal the beauty of the faith, many young and not-so-young people will proudly discover or rediscover the unearned privilege of being Catholic, and the responsibility we have to transform this world of ours into a better place for everyone.”

The Spanish cardinal said that the celebration will rely heavily on the 20,000 volunteers who will help with organization, logistics, contributions, and housing of young pilgrims. He also cited the “positive climate of collaboration” with the Spanish government—a welcome development in light of the frequent clashes between the government and the Catholic hierarchy in recent years.

Spanish officials said that because of difficult economic conditions, the plans for the Madrid events might be less festive than previous World Youth Day celebrations. However, they said, the organizers will do their best to showcase Spanish culture for those in attendance.

Bishop Josef Clemens, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, told reporters that the Pope’s message for World Youth Day 2011, released last month, shows a special desire to relate directly to young people. Bishop Clemens pointed to the way the Pope cited his own youth as an example of how all young Christians face the challenges of seeking for the truth, deciding how to conduct their lives, and responding to God’s call.


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