ROME, APRIL 7, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- The first international meeting of leaders and organizers of World Youth Days will be held near Rome this weekend.
According to a communiqué made public Thursday, the meeting, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will be attended by delegates from 85 countries and by representatives from 45 communities, associations and Catholic youth movements.
Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne will speak on the youth day held last August in Germany, analyzing its results on his archdiocese and on youth pastoral care throughout the country, as well as organizational and logistical challenges.
Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, will speak on the challenges and expectations of the Church in Australia with a view to World Youth Day 2008.
On April 9, Palm Sunday and 21st World Youth Day, the delegates and representatives will participate in the Mass celebrated by Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square. At the end of the Mass, a group of young people from Germany will hand over the World Youth Day Cross to a group of young Australians.
The cross was given to young people by Pope John Paul II on Palm Sunday, 1984.
Before reaching Australia, the cross will undertake a long journey, beginning on Monday when it will travel from Rome to Dakar, Senegal, where it will remain over Easter.
A visit to Africa
The visit to Senegal will mark the first time a World Youth Day cross has ever passed through Africa.
Monsignor Francis Kohn, in charge of the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, told ZENIT that the cross will then visit Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa.
The arrival of the cross makes possible “numerous meetings of young people with extraordinary fruits of conversion and reconciliation,” explained Monsignor Kohn. “It is like a torch — like the Olympic torch — the torch of Christ.”
Next February, the cross will begin another journey taking it to many Pacific Ocean islands, before arriving in Sydney for World Youth Day in July 2008.