An Organizer Reflects on World Youth Days

Bishop Boccardo Gives Book-length Interview

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ROME, DEC. 7, 2005 ( In a book-interview the secretary-general of Vatican City State explains some aspects of Pope John Paul II’s trips, especially those of World Youth Days.

The book recently appeared in French, entitled «Jean-Paul II, les Jeunes et les JMJ: Entretiens avec Mgr Renato Boccardo» (John Paul II, Young People and WYD: Interviews with Monsignor Renato Boccardo), published by Parole et Silence.

The authors are François Vayne, director of Lourdes-Magazine and correspondent of La Croix and Ouest-France, and Ariane Rollier, journalist and correspondent of the magazine Famille Chrétienne and the agency I. Media.

Bishop Boccardo, 52, was until a few weeks ago an organizer of papal trips. He appears on the inside-cover of the book raised up by dozens of youths at the 1997 World Youth Day in Paris.

In a section entitled «Who are you, Monsignor Boccardo?» he replies that as a child he was passionate about scouting and that, when asked what he would be when he grew up, he answered: «A priest.»

Bishop Boccardo, a graduate of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, with a career in diplomacy for the Holy See, explains his diplomatic missions in Bolivia, Cameroon and Paris. At age 39, he was appointed head of the youth section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.


Explaining the success of the World Youth Days, the prelate said: «It is clear that John Paul II’s charism had much to do with it.»

«But its success is not linked only to his person,» Bishop Boccardo said. «John Paul II knew how to divert attention from himself and redirect it immediately to Jesus.»

One of the images that most touched the Italian during his 20 years of World Youth Days was that of a Sudanese girl who threw herself into John Paul II’s arms during the 1991 World Youth Day in Czestochowa, Poland.

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