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About a year ago, I wrote a piece arguing that this summer's World Youth Day is going to be unpopular in the West. It got a lot of attention at the time, as I recall. Most people seemed to agree, with only a small contingent of the World-Youth-Day-is-the-only-thing-that-matters crowd burning me in effigy!
Anyway, I was interested this morning to read that the German Bishops are apparently now actively discouraging minors from going to Rio. Apparently the safety concerns have made them just a little too squeamish to go through with backing it!
While it doesn't actually change anything in terms of what we already knew about this year's event (there won't be many Westeners there, and those who do go will come back with stories of crime!) the fact that a Bishops' Conference is actively telling it's under-18s not to go to World Youth Day is an interesting. More than that, it's likely to raise questions for the future. Questions about the wisdom of holding the event in cities which so much of the world are fearful of, and perhaps even questions about the future of World Youth Day as a huge, single event.
For a while now, we have been one of many voices pushing the Vatican to take a serious look at the satellite model of World Youth Day, with lots of linked events in different cities around the world. It's an idea that really could work!
By Elie Gardner
RIO DE JANEIRO (CNS) -- Carlos Rojas is the keeper of 240 keys at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Vidigal, a hillside slum in south Rio de Janeiro. He opens the church each morning, guards, cleans and closes it each night.
Before the church was built eight years ago, priests celebrated Mass in the street. Wanting their own space, Catholics in the community walked the hillside, going door-to-door, collecting signatures and eventually winning enough support to build their own sanctuary.
Brazil has more Catholics than any country in the world. In 1980 Blessed John Paul II visited the favela, or slum, and left his gold cross-shaped ring there, urging the community to sell it and use the money to better living conditions. Rojas was on the committee that helped to coordinate the visit.
In July, another pope will come to Brazil for World Youth Day. While Rojas said he quietly hoped for another papal visit, he said another favela deserves the chance to experience what Vidigal did in 1980. Since Blessed John Paul's visit to Vidigal, Rojas said the Catholic Church has played a pivotal role in helping the once-dangerous and drug-ridden neighborhood improve.
"The only fight, the only one that the church will serve, is the noble one for truth and justice, the one for the real good, the one where the church is at one with each man," Blessed John Paul told the people of Vidigal.
Go, read the rest...
This is a great video on a great topic, but it's really badly researched. Apparently the World Day of Youth happens every two years and brings together hundreds of young Catholics.
Come on, ITV... this is bordering on BBC levels of sloppiness!! Still, it's an interesting piece. Have a look...
The official song for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio has just been released. Take a look...
There isn't much English in it, but then as we've said before, there probably aren't going to be many English speakers there! Good song though.
By the way, just above Rio there is a big statue of Christ. If you look carefully in the video, and in other WYD materials, you might just catch the odd glimpse of it.
..actually, it was released ages ago and we've been really slow off the mark!! Anyway, enjoy...
As we've said before, there won't be many from these isles going to Rio, but those who do are in for some amazing experiences!
It seems as though the success of the London 2012 games has reignited the calls for the UK to host World Youth Day. Something which was rather inevitable, and possibly not such a bad thing. We know from these games, from the Papal Visit and from a load of other things that we've got a nice country, that we can run big events and that once the events actually start, the moaning that led up to them soon evaporates!
The bottom line is that it's not going to happen in 2015 or 2016. In other words, it's not going to come to London straight after Rio, but I think we can expect that it will eventually. Probably some time in the 2020s.
Last September we wrote an opinion piece about the possibility of WYD-UK. It was referenced by the Herald and several other bodies and seemed to set the standard of caution back then. At least, in the immediate term. Our view, for what it's worth, hasn't changed much since then. Short version: Let's concentrate on building local provision; It will come our way eventually, which is good, but having WYD straight after Rio would be a knee-jerk reaction for the wrong reasons.
Since writing that article I've learned something interesting about the possible genesis of an eventual UK WYD. After WYD 2005 in Cologne, a number of senior figures in CBCEW-land got around a table to...
Today sees ten years since World Youth Day 2002 - Pope John Paul II's last World Youth Day. This from RomeReports...
The (Canadian) Catholic Register also has a piece on the event here.
When we were in Mardid for World Youth Day last summer one of our group wanted to leave for the final Mass as early as we could so that we could get a spot near the front and close to the Pope. The old cynics in the group quickly told him that there was very little point. For one thing, the front blocks would be full of Italians who had barged their way in (a little racist, but probably true!) and for another thing, there really isn't much point trying to get right to the front at huge events. Unless you're right at the front, I pointed out, the issue is how close you are to one of the giant TV screens.
These thoughts re-entered my head a few months back when I was first told about 'World Youth Day at Home' - WYD @ Home, for short - and they're part of the reason why I think this initiative taking place at Aylesford next July is such a brilliant idea.
For those who haven't heard yet, WYD @ Home is next year's incarnation of the amazing Brightlights festival. It's being timed to coincide with the final Mass of World Youth Day, and the plan is to stream the vigil and Final Mass from Rio on a large screen. The aim, of course, is to help those who can't get out to Rio to still feel like they're a part of things.
This is a thoroughly brilliant idea. Not only for 2013, but perhaps also as a potential pattern for World Youth Days of the future. As with all WYD related discussions, this will no doubt draw some criticism, but let me explain...
The fact is that not many people from the western world will be in Rio next summer for WYD. There's not much point reigniting the debates around this. If you want to swot up, then check out what we wrote a few months back. The fact is that the uptake is going to be low, and the fact is that we need to think about how to respond to this in more constructive ways than just moaning!
Interesting stuff from Clerical Whispers:
Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Brazil next July for a youth festival where he will be welcomed at the country's famous Copacabana beach, a local church official said Friday.
The next World Youth Day festival of the Roman Catholic Church will be held in Rio de Janeiro July 23-28 2013 and is expected to draw thousands of young faithful.
"The welcome of Pope Benedict XVI by young people from around the world will take place at Copacabana, as well as the opening mass with Rio Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta and the Stations of the Cross," Father Arnaldo Rodrigues, one of the organizers, told AFP.
It will be the second time the gathering has been held in Latin America, after Buenos Aires in 1987.
Brazil has an estimated 125 million Catholics, and is the largest Catholic country in the world.
The pontiff's arrival date has not been released.
FORTALEZA, Brazil, May 31, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Young people look at the World Youth Day (WYD) Cross "as a sign of God's love for us," said Father Antonio Ramos do Prado, SDB, known as Father Toninho.
In an interview with ZENIT, Father Toninho explained how Brazil is receiving the WYD Cross that has been travelling through the different dioceses. Father Toninho is an adviser of the Episcopal Commission for Youth Pastoral Care and national coordinator of the pilgrimage of the WYD Cross in Brazil. Father Toninho: The young people are from all social classes, from the countryside and from the city. They are from youth pastoral endeavors who live their ministry in rural communities, in the popular media, in the student world, in grass-roots communities in our parishes in Brazil. They are young people of movements, of new communities, of the university world and of congregations that have a charism directed to the evangelization of youth.
ZENIT: How do young people regard the WYD Cross?
Father Toninho: Many look at it asking God for freedom. For example, when the Cross is taken to prisons, young inmates...
Vatican City, May 07, 2013 (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves
The Holy See Press Office has released the Holy Father's itinerary for the first international Apostolic visit of his papacy. Pope Francis will begin his journey to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 28th World Youth Day on July 22nd.
Upon his arrival to Rio de Janeiro, the Holy Father will be received by President Dilma Rouseff during a welcoming ceremony in the gardens of the Guanabara Palace, the seat of the state's government.
On Wednesday, July 24th, Pope Francis will travel by helicopter to the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida where he will also celebrate Mass. The Basilica, which is dedicated to the Patroness of Brazil, is the second largest Basilica in the World. The Holy Father will then have lunch with bishops and seminarians at the Bom Jesus Missionary Seminary and in the evening, will visit the São Francisco de Assis na Providência (St. Francis of Assisi of the Providence) Hospital.
Pope Francis will hear confessions of several youth during a World Youth Day gathering at the Quinta da Boa Vista Park in the morning of July 26th. Later on he will meet with several juvenile detainees and will pray the Angelus from the balcony of the St. Joaquim Palace.
The highlight of the Apostolic trip will be the closing Mass for XXVIII World Youth Day at the Campus Fidei of Guaratiba on Sunday, July 28th. Millions of youth from around the world, as in past WYD events, are expected to attend. In the afternoon, the Holy Father will meet with the coordination committee of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) as well as with WYD volunteers. The Holy Father will depart from Brazil that same evening and will arrive in Rome on Monday, July 29th.
(May 07, 2013) © Innovative Media Inc.
[image hotlinked from Vatican.va]
A few months ago, Fr. Christopher Jamison (Director of the National Office for Vocation) wrote an article for the Catholic Herald urging young British Catholics not to be afraid of going to Rio. It was a persuasive and well-written piece (alas, not available online) and I really hope that it hits home. World Youth Day, after all, is an incredibly powerful event, and given its clear impact on vocations to the priesthood and religious life, I can well see why Fr. Jamison is so keen to see a strong uptake.
Sadly though, I think that the uptake from the UK is going to be incredibly low. We should do what we can to support those groups and those individual young people who have a realistic hope of getting there, but in reality I think that we may also (note: also, not instead) need to focus past Rio and think about how we can turn this disappointment into an opportunity.
There are several reasons for the low uptake. The main one is that Rio is a long way from the UK (read: expensive) which means that it's going to be hard for young people to raise the money. Add to that the fact that the usual three year prep time has been shortened to two years (thanks to the World Cup having called shotgun on Rio 2014), and then factor in that we are in a time of global recession, and you start to see the problem.
That's the main problem. But there are other ones too. Rightly or wrongly there is a palpable concern about how safe Rio is and - again, rightly or wrongly - there is also a concern that the Church isn't entirely free from blame in an apparent controversy surrounding how some of the poorer residents of Rio have been shifted away from their land to make way for certain World Cup events. WYD, apparently, is planning to use some of those venues too.
Some of the people we spoke to about this are also telling us that many of the usual WYD tour operators are steering clear of Rio. The hotels in Rio are using WYD as an excuse to hike their prices up. Prices, which they are being very slow to clarify, to the frustration of tour operators, and therefore potential punters too.
One answer to the money concerns might be to look for a cheap-and-cheerful approach. I've heard it said many times that more UK groups should look into the sleeping-on-school-floors approach to WYD, and there is some merit in that. The flip side, though, is that some people just can't handle sleeping on floors for a week, especially with a hot climate and a punishing schedule. So for every pilgrim you'd gain by reducing the cost, you may well lose one by reducing the quality of the experience. Hotels don't have to have five stars, or even three or four, but there's a lot to be said for a proper bed, a warm shower and a decent breakfast. Take it from somebody who has lived and worked in the tropics: it's hard enough to sleep anyway. You need your shower, you need your breakfast, and you need a room with at least some facility for keeping the bugs away. Preferably air-conditioning, but at least a fan or net.
But then, even if the cost could be ...
A useful video if you're looking to get a buzz going...
Just found this on facebook and thought it was worth sharing... There's probably a better resolution one available somewhere too!!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again... Social Media is where young people are at. If we don't conquer it, then we won't be as effective at drawing them in. Flame Congress and the Papal Visit (or #Flame2012 and #PapalVisit) learned this lessons well, and it seems that #WorldYouthDay #Rio2013 is now learning it too... This, from @RomeReports:
By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- On the seventh anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to one of his predecessor's innovations: World Youth Day.
Greeting an estimated 5,000 cheering young people from Spain April 2, Pope Benedict said they were "the protagonists and principal recipients of this pastoral initiative promoted vigorously by my beloved predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, whose passage to heaven we remember today."
The Spanish youths had come to the Vatican for the celebration of Palm Sunday April 1 and to thank the pope for visiting Madrid for World Youth Day last August. The Spanish delegation included the World Youth Day orchestra, which played during the papal audience.
While the pope was with the young people, Vatican officials and representatives of the Brazilian bishops' conference were holding a news conference to talk about plans for the next international celebration of World Youth Day, which will be held July 23-28, 2013, in Rio de Janeiro.
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