Blog Post

Pope: Pray for World Youth Day!

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist As millions of young people from around the world converge on Madrid this week for what is expected to be the largest World Youth Day (WYD) ever, Pope Benedict XVI is asking the faithful to keep this event in prayer. "I ask everyone to spiritually accompany me with prayer on my trip to Madrid in a few days for World Youth Day," the Pope said yesterday to pilgrims during his Sunday Angelus address at Castel Gandolfo.  He is expected to arrive on Thursday and will be participating in a variety of WYD events as well as meeting with government and Church leaders before departing on Sunday. Although once a bastian of the Church, Spain is now one of the most secularized countries in Europe, which is why the Pope is hoping the massive event will shine like a beacon of faith to the country.  The Church's presence is already being felt on the streets of Madrid which are lined with banners in the Vatican's colors of yellow and white. Many roads are already closed to  make way for a series of religious events and concerts that will take place over the next week. Giant television screens have been erected in plazas across the city to accommodate the half million teens who have begun to descend on the city. The altar where the Pope will celebrate Mass on Sunday has already been constructed at an air-base in the southwestern suburb of Cuatro Vientos.  Pilgrims will camp out under the stars the night before in an area the size of 48 football fields. Hundreds of priests will be on hand to hear confessions in 30 languages in 200 specially made portable confessionals that are lining the main avenue of Madrid's Retiro Park. However, protests are also being planned by many groups who oppose the Church for a variety of reasons, from the amount of money being spent on WYD during a time of deep economic crisis in Spain to clerical sex abuse and the Church's position of female ordination and homosexual rights. Other protestors are using the occasion to set up camps in city squares to voice their frustration with the country's soaring unemployment and political corruption. Organizers of WYD say the cost of the visit - an estimated 50 million Euros, will be covered by the pilgrim's registration fees and corporate sponsorship of the event, plus inject another 100 million Euros into the struggling Spanish economy. This is a country in dire need of conversion, says Archbiship Renzo Fratini, Apostolic Nuncio to Spain. Speaking on Vatican Radio last week, he said the nation is going through a crisis of values and believes that the Pope will "bring a new wind to society.” “Many young people feel disillusioned and are in need of new hope and so this day - I believe - represents a new beginning”, he said. He went on to say that this World Youth Day is a crucial component in Pope Benedict’s vision of a ‘new evangelization’ of the European continent. The theme for World Youth Day in Madrid is “Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the Faith,” taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, a theme the Archbishop believes is particularly appropriate during these times of economic uncertainty. “I believe it is a good opportunity to rediscover the foundations of the fundamental choice of Christian life: live it every day in relationship with others and in a dimension of solidarity and openness to the world.”   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®