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           Jul 24, 2013



400 thousand at World Youth Day Opening Mass on Copacabana beach

Bad weather failed to dampen young people’s spirits. 175 countries present. The celebration was presided over by Msgr. Orani Joao Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio. Welcoming address by Card. Rylko. Pope Francis’ program for today.


Rio de Janeiro (AsiaNews): At least 400 thousand young people took part in Mass on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, marking the beginning of World Youth Day (WYD). Inclement weather, with wind and rain showers, persisted throughout the day but did not dampen the celebration, presided over by the Archbishop of Rio, Msgr. Orani Joao Tempesta. In a whirlwind of flags from around the world - there are 175 countries present - Msgr. Orani said that these days, "Rio has become the center of a vibrant and young Church".

The WYD is in its 28th edition. This year's theme is "Go and make disciples of all nations." The Archbishop of Rio pointed to this missionary character of the event. "Go into the city - he said - witness Jesus Christ, commit to a new world, infected everyone you meet with the joy and peace of Christ, as sentinels of the morning, working to renew the world in light of God's plan."

Card. Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity - which oversees the WYD events - welcomed the young people at the beginning of the celebration, noting that the youth gathering is returning to Latin America, after the memorable World Youth Day in Buenos Aires in 1987, commissioned by John Paul II. The Rio edition, commissioned and prepared by Benedict XVI, is presided over by Pope Francis, "the first Latin American pope." And echoing all these popes, he added: "This World Youth Day takes place at the foot of the statue of Christ the Redeemer of Corcovado. He is the true protagonist of this event! His heart beats with infinite love for each of you and his arms are wide open are ready to welcome all of you! During this World Youth Day, let yourself be embraced by Christ! Entrust Him with all your desires, your plans for the future, your deepest joys; entrust him with the difficult choices you are called to make, your fears and the anxieties that inhabit your young hearts! Youth is in itself an enormous wealth: it is yours and you must make it bear fruit! Entrust it to Christ! Those who choose Christ, lose nothing, absolutely nothing, - on the contrary -they gain everything and find true happiness and fullness of life. "

Yesterday Pope Francis spent a day of relative rest, meeting some bishops and nuns. Today he will have several appointments. The most important is his visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, patroness of Brazil, and a visit to the hospital in Rio Sao Francisco de Assis, in the Tijuca neighborhood, that specializes in rehabilitation for drug addicts.