"Cardinal to Young People: It Is Worthwhile"
A standing ovation greeted the news that Pope John Paul II has been named a patron of the next World Youth Day, which will take place Aug. 16-21 in Madrid.
Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery in charge of World Youth Days, made this announcement on Friday to a group of over 230 delegates gathered in Madrid for the organization of the forthcoming event.
The announcement came shortly after the Vatican communiqué that John Paul II, who initiated the first youth days during his pontificate, will be beatified on May 1 by Benedict XVI.
The cardinal recalled how Karol Wojtyla regarded himself as a "friend of young people" and said he was very happy "to be able to communicate the news during this meeting of delegates."
The delegates, representing 84 countries and 57 ecclesial realities worldwide, held a four-day organizational meeting that ended Saturday outside Madrid.
Cardinal Ryłko presided over the meeting along with Archbishop Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid.
Auxiliary Bishop César Franco of Madrid, general coordinator of the 2011 World Youth Day, explained that John Paul II is added to the list of other patrons for the event: St. Isidore the Worker, St. Francis Xavier, St. John of the Cross, St. John of Avila, St. Rose of Lima and St. Rafael Arnaiz.
Cardinal Ryłko, in a press conference about last week's gathering, stated that they are in "a decisive stage in the itinerary of spiritual, organizational and logistical preparation of Madrid's 2011 World Youth Day."
Later, to a group of volunteers, he stated, "It will be very important for many young people coming from all corners of the world to see your capacity for hospitality, your spirit of sacrifice during World Youth Day, at times in hidden tasks, but not because of that less important."
The cardinal added, "Don't say to your friends, 'You must come to World Youth Day,' but 'It is worthwhile!'"
Cardinal Rouco Varela noted the "lively, agile and dynamic" nature of the meeting, where delegates were given "firsthand information on their needs and expectations."
The meeting participants were given information on the various aspects of the event's organization: housing, maintenance, transportation, registration, visas and volunteer work.
They also visited the main venues for the event ceremonies: the Cuatro Vientos airfield, and the surroundings of Cibeles Square.
Barbara Koorbanally, a South African representative, mentioned several initiatives of the young people of her country in preparation for the event. For example, she noted that a replica of the World Youth Day Cross -- which has been going across Spain since September of 2009 -- is being taken throughout South Africa to prepare young people for the event in Madrid.
Tiago Oliveira, a delegate from Brazil, pointed out that young Brazilians "see in Spain a sister country, so they are very excited." Some 20,000 young people from this country are expected to attend the event.