World Youth Day Will Have a "Very Spanish" Flavor

Pope Will Meet With Young Professors, Religious

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2011 ( The upcoming World Youth Day in Madrid will be marked by Spanish joy, with the character of a fiesta, says the executive director of the event.

Yago de la Cierva made this comment during a briefing in the Vatican press office. He predicted that more than 1 million young people will participate in the event, which has the support of the government, region and municipality of Madrid.

Although the budget will be «austere,» De la Cierva said, the youth day will be marked by the «Spanish joy of the ‘fiesta,’ as it will be, in fact, a very Spanish event.»

The organizational team for the youth day also spoke at the meeting with journalists, reporting on various initiatives that are being carried out in preparation for this world meeting of young people with the Pope.

One of the organizational aspects that is receiving the greatest attention is the use of technology both to follow the celebrations as well as for practical issues.

De la Cierva stated, «The new technologies will particularly benefit young people because, thanks to cell phones, iPads, notebooks and other instruments to communicate on the network they will be able to know where events of the day are being held and those near to the area where they are, which restaurants serve lunch, etc.»

He added that they will also be able to watch videos of the events with Benedict XVI and access multimedia material on how to pray the rosary and how to prepare for confession.

Social networks

The technology and social networks already have a role in this event, and on Facebook there are already more than 250,000 registered at the World Youth Day page, De la Cierva noted. He explained that these youth are able to share their opinions and their preferences on certain matters, and link to the social networks of other countries and regions.

«Hence,» the executive director said, «it will be an event marked by the suggestions that young people are making through the Web page in 11 languages and with more than 1 million visits a month.»

«On this site, for example, more than 80 songs arrived, which in turn are voted on by Internet surfers so that they can be sung in addition to the official hymn,» he added.

De la Cierva affirmed that this youth day will show «a connection between faith and beauty, in particular during the Via Crucis.»

He noted that participants will be able to see «devotion permeated with religiosity and Spanish culture, as the Pontifical Council for the Laity also wished it to be.»

«And the schedules will also be very Spanish,» said De la Cierva. Hence, there will be various activities after dinner, such as open museums. Moreover, the temperature will be favorable, he predicted.

Program of events

De la Cierva explained some of the scheduled program, though he clarified that changes are still being made. He noted that there will be a meeting of the Pope with the academic world, keeping in mind that Benedict XVI is a university professor. The Pontiff is scheduled to meet at the Escorial with 1,500 university professors younger than 40.

The executive director reported that there will be another meeting with people in the consecrated life, which will be attended by 1,500 nuns younger than 35 and many of them contemplatives, again in the Escorial.

He noted that Spain has 70% of the world’s women contemplatives.

Before returning to Rome, Benedict XVI will meet with the volunteers, De la Cierva said, «given that they will have worked for the realization of the World Youth Day and will be unable to take part in the meetings since, for example, some will be in charge of the parking lots.»

Another meeting will take place with people suffering sickness and grief. And the Holy Father will also meet in the cathedral with young seminarians or candidates to the priesthood, given that in previous youth days many young people have found their religious vocation.


The budget, though not yet wholly defined, will be 20% cheaper than the youth days in Sydney and Cologne, De la Cierva reported. He noted that this reflects the reality that Spain is in a moment of economic crisis. It is estimated at present that the total cost of the event will be around €50 million ($70 million).

The executive director said, «For us transparency about the funds and expenses is essential.» He noted that 75% of the funds will come from participants, and the rest will be covered by businesses and individuals.

«The experience of other events helped us to perfect Madrid’s World Youth Day,» said De la Cierva. 

«We want the numbers to be clear,» he said. «Afterward, there will be a revision of the bills to know where every euro went that we received.»

«For this reason there is still no final budget, given that we are finding lower prices in the market,» De la Cierva added.

Those who have registered thus far number almost 300,000, from 11,500 groups. From Spain, Italy and France there are between 40,000 and 48,000 per country. Some 18,000 from the United States are registered.

«Projection of this data makes us estimate that more than 1 million young people will take part,» explained De la Cierva. «The figures will rise before the end of March, among other things because up to that date there is a 5% discount.»


He noted that 25,000 volunteers are needed, 20,000 of whom have already expressed their intention to participate. Of these, almost 8,000 are from countries other than Spain.

For example, a meeting was held in Warsaw, Poland, of 1,300 volunteers who are studying the Spanish language.

Volunteers are given a 75% discount on their registration. They will be given food and housing for 10 days prior to the event, a period in which they will receive training, get to know the city, learn first aid and other practical issues.

De la Cierva said, «They will have to pay a minimum, because although we ask them for their time, their generosity is also necessary.»

Of the said payment, 25% will go to the solidarity fund «because we want to prevent World Youth Day being [only] for young people from rich countries,» he explained. «There are representatives, for example, from countries such as Cuba, who will also be helped with their trip, and others such as Cambodia, Laos, etc., including people from Muslim countries.»

De la Cierva reported that the backpack that will be given to participants has a t-shirt, a ticket for transport in the city, a cap and hat, a pilgrim’s guide, a World Youth Day guide and a rosary.

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