A gathering of young Catholics from all around the world is particularly in sync with the aspirations of this generation, which wishes to be in contact with peers from different environments and ethnicities.
This is the observation of Father Eric Jacquinet, who is in charge of the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
ZENIT spoke with Father Jacquinet about next week’s World Youth Day.
ZENIT: Why was the theme “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations” chosen for World Youth Day? Was it also in consideration of the Year of Faith?
Father Jacquinet: The Rio de Janeiro meeting was prepared during the Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelization. It is in this context that the spiritual preparation for Rio has initiated, with the message that Pope Benedict wrote almost a year ago. Moreover, all the bishops of Latin America had asked for a continental mission. In these two contexts, Pope Benedict wanted the WYD to be on the New Evangelization, because many young people don’t know Christ. Who better than they can be missionaries to young people who are far from the faith? John Paul II said that faith grows when it is given. In the missionary act young people can become mature Christians if they enter into the missionary attitude. Because of this, the mission for young people is not something superficial, but a duty, it forms part of their Christian identity – to grow in the faith, to grow in the mission.
ZENIT: It’s not always easy to talk about God to young people, but with the WYD there are also many young people who will participate who are estranged from the Church. Why do you think this happens?
Father Jacquinet: There are different reasons: many come and find in the WYD a place of friendship. Responding to a journalist in Madrid, Pope Benedict XVI said “I’m sure many friendships will be born
ZENIT: Can you explain to us the pastoral dynamic of the WYD, in particular, of the forthcoming one of Rio de Janeiro?
Father Jacquinet: The WYD is a pilgrimage modeled after that of the disciples of Emmaus. The disciples traveled a ways, talking with each other and Jesus, and they didn’t recognize him. There is also preparation for the WYD. The Holy Father has written a very beautiful message, with which young people are getting under way. When one goes on pilgrimage, things are left behind: home, customs, to be more disposed to the essential. Before arriving in Rio, there will be a missionary week in the dioceses where all the groups from outside of Brazil will be received in families and live moments of prayer and mission. On Monday, July 22, they will go to Rio de Janeiro, where the WYD will begin on Tuesday with the opening Mass. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings will be the days dedicated to catechesis in over 200 places in 26 different languages. The Via Crucis will be on Friday afternoon, where we will be able to entrust to Christ in his Passion all our questions and sufferings. There are many sufferings in Brazil now, which are expressed in protests. We can ask Christ for his help, his grace and his consolation. On Saturday the great pilgrimage will take place to arrive at the “Campus Fidei” of Guaratiba, where the Vigil will be held with the Holy Father. That night we will sleep outdoors, waiting for the final Mass, which will be on Sunday morning. It will be a Mass of missionary sending where some young people will receive the cross on behalf of all, a mandate for their continent. Each youth will be invited to take the Gospel. As the disciples touched Him with their hand and then returned to Jerusalem to proclaim Christ Risen, we will also return home reinforced in the faith to communicate it to others.[Part 2 of this interview will be published Monday] [Translated by ZENIT]