This week’s 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 World Youth Day, under way today in Rio de Janeiro.
Part 1 of this interview was published Friday.
ZENIT: In your opinion, what are the most important fruits of the WYDs since they began?
Father Jacquinet: In my opinion, the WYD has helped many young people to find a Christian identity. John Paul II had a plan to make young people reach Christ. When Pope Benedict XVI went to his first WYD in Cologne, he said, “I’m going to make young people discover the beauty of the faith.” Many have been reinforced in the faith and have decided to follow Christ. Going to the WYD of Paris in 1997 and seeing the Holy Father’s look, many of my pagan friends decided to commit themselves to follow Christ and to find their joy in Him. This is the main vocation of the baptized.
The WYD is an important impulse: many young couples decide to get married; others, however, take the decision to enter a seminary or the religious life, having the confirmation that it is possible, seeing also the experience of young priests who are at these meetings. “I have not come here only to thank you, I ask you to really respond to the Lord’s call,” were Pope Benedict XVI’s words during the meeting with the volunteers of the Madrid WYD.
The spiritual dynamism that is lived in the WYD also bears fruits in the local Churches. Some poor countries can’t send many young people so the fortunate ones who participate return to their countries of origin, organizing national meetings to tell what they lived in the WYD.
ZENIT: Speaking of poor countries, Africa comes to mind. What participation do African young people have in the WYD?
Father Jacquinet: Their participation isn’t very high; sometimes entire nations are missing. This time, however, we have helped many African countries through the WYD’s solidarity fund: each youth of a rich country is invited to donate 10 euros to this fund which is managed by the Council for the Laity and which distributes according to the requests of various countries. We have sent money to Africa through the Episcopal Conferences of several countries, so that they can attend and take advantage of this experience. However, many who can’t go will organize themselves to make connections and live from home the events taking place in Rio.
ZENIT: What criteria are taken into account in organizing these events?
Father Jacquinet: First of all, there must be the desire of a bishop or archbishop to organize it, and a possible collaboration with the state, so that it can assure the concrete means to receive the young people: hospitals, medical structures, etc. The World Youth Day has also been held in places where the Catholic Church isn’t the first Church of the country, as, for instance, in Sydney 2008. At the level of logistics, there is alternation between Europe and the other continents. I hope that one day there will be a WYD in Asia again. Two years ago, while preparing the Rio WYD, some African delegates invited us to reflect on the possibility of organizing it in Africa. Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, expressed his willingness to see if this possibility existed; however, at present some criteria are lacking to be able to suggest this objective to the Holy Father.[Translation by ZENIT] [When Part 1 of this interview ran last Friday, it was announced that this Part 2 would run Monday. Due to an editorial oversight, that did not occur. ZENIT regrets the error.]
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