TORONTO, JULY 23, 2002 (ZENIT.org–Avvenire).- Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and responsible at the Vatican level for organizing World Youth Days, commented on the progress of events in Toronto, as this year’s WYD got under way.
Young people have filled the streets of downtown Toronto with color and excitement, and Archbishop Rylko said that this was, precisely, the message: “We are in a modern metropolis, where Christians often live in anonymity. WYD is also a time when ‘invisible’ believers reveal themselves to the world.”
Asked about the prospects of Toronto’s WYD he replied: “Every WYD is a challenge. And this one, in particular, has had many, beginning with the famous Sept. 11, which has created not a few problems at the operational level, to the great distance between Canada and other continents.”
Q: These challenges, however, have not detained young people. On the contrary, they have shown greater courage than adults. Are the 200,000 registered up to now, few or many?
Archbishop Rylko: Based on past experiences, we generally avoid talking about numbers because in these events what is important is each young person who arrives. Each one brings all his/her personal history, his/her problems, his/her hopes. Therefore, it is not numbers that count. Each young person who arrives counts.
Q: From the spiritual point of view, what is the distinguishing feature of this WYD?
Archbishop Rylko: This WYD is organized within a modern metropolis and, therefore, reminds one, specifically, of Denver and Paris.
It is a special experience, because it invites us to confront the modern Areopagus and a culture that is largely secularized. This is why it is important that young people, a good many of whom live in these metropolises, are able to meet and see that there are many of us who believe in Christ and are proud of it.
Q: What is your opinion of Canadian society?
Archbishop Rylko: I was impressed by the fact that it was the Canadian bishops themselves who asked the Pope for this Day. And they did so because, as pastors, they saw that WYD is an important event not only for young people but for the whole Church, and for its place in society.
Wherever the faith runs the risk of being marginalized or lived with an inferiority complex in relation to the culture, WYD is a great opportunity, a gift, a grace. I think what distinguishes this Day is the fact that a relatively small Church has had the courage to launch such an important initiative. Because I am sure that, this time too, it will be a significant World Day, especially from the spiritual point of view.