Cardinal Stafford on What World Youth Day 2002 Will Mean

President of Pontifical Council for the Laity Talks About Preparations

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ROME, DEC. 4, 2001 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- Cardinal James Stafford has just returned from Toronto «full of joy» over what he had seen in the preparations for World Youth Day 2002.

The U.S. cardinal said that Toronto, with the greatest number of ethnic groups in the world, will bring together Latin Americans, Frenchmen, Italians, Anglo-Saxons, Asians, Arabs, African-Americans, and indigenous peoples of America to share the faith.

What lesson will this World Youth Day hold?

«A lesson of tolerance and the exercise of freedom in a pluralist environment — something that is very important, after what happened on Sept. 11,» said the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

–Q: How are preparations going for World Youth Day?

–Cardinal Stafford: I am very pleased with the work being done by the Church in Canada. The pilgrimage with the cross, which the Pope entrusted to youth in 1985, is awakening great enthusiasm in all the dioceses, involving parishes, movements, young people and their families.

I saw numerous faithful weep with emotion and joy during different celebrations. In addition, I had many meetings with the authorities and with those concerned with security. From this point of view, I was also able to see the extraordinary commitment with which work is being done.

–Q: Your reference to security makes one think immediately of Sept. 11. Has that tragedy changed the profile of the Toronto meeting in any way?

–Cardinal Stafford: I touched on this point in many meetings in recent days, and I think that after all that has happened, the WYD is more important than ever.

I remember a passage of the prophet Joel, which says that the Lord «Will pour out spirit on all flesh,» and that «your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.» I hope to see all this verified in Toronto.

–Q: In what sense?

–Cardinal Stafford: In the sense that, following Sept. 11, another vision of the world is necessary. The present one, old, stagnant, and full of hatred and violence, must be replaced by a world that is finally pacified, characterized by hope, where all can live with one another in respect of faith and the opinions of each.

I am sure that in Toronto the Pope, together with youth, will give this new vision of the world. In reading Joel´s passage I am impressed by the fact that it speaks specifically of old men´s dreams and youths´ visions.

Indeed, isn´t this what happened with the elderly Pope and the WYD experience in Rome?

–Q: Speaking of Rome, what legacy have those 2 million youths left to Toronto?

–Cardinal Stafford: First of all, the vision of a Church that is open and welcoming. The image, which is the symbol of Rome 2000, is the holy door, namely, Christ himself. And this door is always open to all men of the world.

In Tor Vergata, in August of that year, youths had a direct experience of community and Christian identity. As previously, while going through Italian dioceses, they experienced the exchange of gifts in faith.

–Q: Will this experience be repeated in Toronto?

–Cardinal Stafford: Certainly, and it will be a further step in the path begun in 1997 in Paris. Similarly, the experience of reconciliation will be repeated, such as in the Circus Maximus.

In addition, with some leaders of movements we are exploring the possibility of introducing a healing prayer for youth in the program, especially from a psychological point of view.

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