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Next stop Rio de Janeiro

· The World’s youth looking forward to 2013 ·

From 23 to 28 July 2013 Corcovado’s giant statue of Christ the Redeemer will welcome in its symbolic embrace young people from all over the world for the next international installment of wyd. Just before the curtain fell on his days in Madrid, the Pope announced that the next venue is in Rio de Janeiro and that the event there would take place one year ahead of the normal planning period for World Youth Days because in 2014 Brazil is set to host the world championship for European football “and so time is tight”, commented Archbishop Orani João Tempesta. Moreover — he told our newspaper on the platform of Cuatro Vientos Air Base where Bendict XVI had just celebrated the closing Mass for the 26th wyd — “We want to show that Rio is not just sports and carnivals. Our day should be an opportunity for those of our young people who are afflicted with problems like poverty, violence and drugs”.

But moving it up a year earlier is also made necessary by the fact that the maravilhosa city, as it is called in these parts, will host two other events of global importance, in fact moving the centre of media attention in the near future on “planet” to Brazil: in 2016 it will hold the Olympic games and before that, in June 2012, the next un Conference on Sustainable Development, which will study what has occurred in the 20 years since its first cry of alarm for the environment at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

There is another relevant innovation: Brazilian youth have come to Madrid en masse, a good 16,000, along with 60 bishops, to receive the Cross and the Marian Icon, symbols of wyd, from the hands of their peers in the Spanish capital. Archbishop Tempesta explained: “The country is immense, and we want the pilgrimage to come through each one of Brazil’s 274 dioceses before reaching Rio, two months before wyd”. If you consider that in Sydney there were only 2,000 Brazilians, this turning point for youth becomes clear. “Before there was only one Juventud Sector, now there are all different members of the Church engaged in the commission established by the National Bishops’ Conference in the last general assembly”, explained Salesian Bishop Eduardo Pinheiro da Silva.

After Toronto 2002, wyd again returns to the Americas. It has been 26 years since the last time in Latin America: 1987 in Buenos Aires. However now, complicit with globalization, many things have changed. The 2013 meeting involves the Archdiocese of Rio, with its 6 million inhabitants; Brazil engaged in a colossal development effort, with billionaire investments; and the entire continent, home to 47 percent of the world’s Catholics. Archbishop Tempesta underlined this last dimension, which brings the churches in Latin America and the Caribbean into the limelight: “The organization of wyd is a joy and an opportunity for Catholics in our Diocese, for Brazilians and for the faithful of Latin America”. Because, he added, “it is not just about receiving young people from around the world, but about renewing our faith in the Holy Spirit in order to be missionary disciples and to confirm our commitment toward an authentic social life and to construct a civilization of love”, just as was asked by the fifth conference of the continent’s bishops held in Aparecida, Brazil.

The Archbishop of Aparecida, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, President of the Bishops’ Conference, said in a press conference held in Madrid that the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, has expressed his willingness to help local entities in every way possible to realize this event. The Cardinal — also the President of celam, the Latin American Episcopal Conference — hopes for a “very strong” participation by all Latin America in the wake of the call from Aparecida. Moreover, it was on that occasion, during the Pope’s stop in São Paulo on 10 May, four years ago, that Fr Eduardo, on behalf of the Brazilian Bishops, made out the request to host wyd, “I remember Benedict XVI answering with a smile and now we are ready to set up the organizing committee”. Perhaps this is also why the wyd Cross and Icon will arrive in São Paulo precisely this coming 18 September, then move from there all over Brazil. A country — it is to be remembered — where Catholics number over 150 million, 74 per cent of a population of 220 million, 84 percent in rural areas. In the suburbs of large cities, the percentage falls, however, to 65 percent. “Calculating quickly – added the Prelate — young people between 15 and 30 should number about 50 million”.




St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 22, 2019