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
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.