VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is due to meet this Saturday, the eve of Pentecost, with some 300,000 members of ecclesial movements and new communities in St. Peter’s Square.
Today, Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, gave the press details of the event. The event has only one precedent: the meeting of such ecclesial realities convoked by Pope John Paul II on May 30, 1998.
Bishop Clemens said that most of those who will attend the meeting are from Italy.
It is estimated that about 30,000 people will come from other European countries; 5,000 from Latin America; 450 from Africa; 300 from Asia; and more than 100 from Oceania.
In the main, these people belong to some 100 movements and communities.
The vigil will be preceded by two initiatives promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
From Wednesday to Friday, 300 representatives of movements will attend a congress in Rocca di Papa, near Rome, to reflect on the theme “The Beauty of Being Christians and the Joy of Communicating It.”
The three main addresses will be delivered by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna; Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec; and Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice.
The second preparatory event includes prayer vigils on Friday that will be led by the movements in the various churches and basilicas of Rome, according to Bishop Clemens.
The vigils aim to prepare the members of the communities spiritually and to offer a testimony to the whole city of Rome.
The Web page of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (www.laici.org) gives the venues and times in which 21 movements will lead these vigils.