VATICAN CITY, 5 OCT 2010 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the next World Youth Day, which is due to be held in the Spanish capital city of Madrid in August 2011.
Participating in today's presentation were Cardinal Stansilaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference; Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Bishop Cesar Franco Martinez, auxiliary of Madrid and co-ordinator general for WYD 2011, and Maria de Jaureguizar, vice director of the WYD communications department.
Cardinal Rylko highlighted how "the Pope lays much emphasis on the fact that WYD should not be reduced merely to a moment of festivity. Preparation for this great event and the attention that must be given to ordinary pastoral care are an integral and decisive part thereof. The festivities and the event itself act as a kind of catalyst to facilitate an ongoing educational process. In this sense, Benedict XVI sees in WYD a prophetic response to the educational emergency of the post-modern world".
In his remarks, Cardinal Rouco Varela explained that "World Youth Day is a clear invitation addressed to all Spanish society to draw near to Christ and His Church. ... If we mange 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".
WYD, he went on, "will be possible thanks to many people's help", first among them "dozens of permanent helpers and - when the crucial week of 16-21 August draws near - up to 20,000 Spanish and international volunteers". Many families of Madrid will also welcome pilgrims into their homes. From an economic point of view, "WYD is supported by a vast civic platform, made up of many small donations as well as of contributions from firms and institutions, in money and in kind, who have agreed to become patrons and to share the responsibility of organising WYD, for the benefit of the youth of the world".
"I must not fail to mention", Cardinal Rouco continued, "the positive climate of collaboration which has existed since the start with the Spanish public authorities. The welcome given to WYD by the national government, the Autonomous Community of Madrid and the city authorities, was favourable and effective from the first moment".
Bishop Clemens analysed the Pope's Message for WYD, noting the autobiographical references Benedict XVI includes in the text. "The Pope mentions his personal experiences on three occasions", said Bishop Clemens. "In doing so he shows - as he has during meetings with children and young people in the past - great closeness and sensibility towards the specific challenges and difficulties youth must face. His words and gestures demonstrate a sincere desire to share with young people, revealing great tact and an attentive and realistic language".
"The Holy Father's first autobiographical reference begins with the experience of his own youth as a period of 'great seeking', but also of 'seeking what is great'", said Bishop Clemens. Benedict XVI speaks of the Nazi period, but his experiences are in some way "transferable to the situation of young people today who, though in a different way, also experience being 'closed' in a world where consumerism and personal relations based on interest often prevail".
The second reference is to youth as a time of great decisions, and the Holy Father recalls his own decision to become a priest. "The Pope's words", the bishop said, "reflect the experience of many young people who well know that great decisions, often difficult decisions, must subsequently be re-conquered and defended. We all know the widespread difficulty of our time of taking and remaining faithful to great decisions, of committing oneself for a lifetime. It is in this context that the Pope points out the virtues ... of faithfulness and coherence, of willingness and service, as indispensable premises for an 'authentic' life".
Thirdly, in his Message Benedict XVI identifies the response that will guide us throughout our lives. "A response that comes from the depths of his heart and from the experience of his long life", said Bishop Clemens. "This response is God, it is faith in Him, it is the meeting with Jesus Christ; ... the real Jesus, not the Jesus of a hypothesis or a scientific theory. As an 'existential foundation' he offers the experience of his own 'personal search for the face of the Lord', which he achieved and developed over long years of study, prayer and meditation".
For his part, Bishop Cesar Franco Martinez focused his remarks on the programme and the organisational aspects of WYD. According to information collected from various episcopal conferences, he said, WYD 2011 promises to be one of the best-attended of those organised in Europe although, because of the economic crisis afflicting Spain, it will be marked by a certain sobriety. It will also be a "very Spanish" WYD because the Pontifical Council for the Laity, indicating that each WYD must be firmly rooted in its host country, has asked that there be "a special presentation of Spanish history and culture".
The principal aim of WYD in Madrid is to relaunch pastoral activity among young people. "Society is witnessing a fall in religious practice among youth", the bishop explained. "The latest official information shows that among under-twenty-fives the level of religious practice is less than ten percent, while 48.1 percent of young people declare themselves as non-practicing. It is precisely them we wish to reach".
On the subject of economic support, the bishop gave the names of various organisations that are supporting the event. He also explained that anyone wishing to make a contribution can visit the portal http://www.muchasgracias/ info where they will be able to decide the quantity and purpose of their donation.