The Spanish authorities have agreed to issue free visas to pilgrims traveling to Madrid for World Youth Day, and to contribute the services of 6,000 security forces.
These were some conclusions of a meeting last week between Ramón Jáuregui, minister of the Presidency of Spain, and youth day organizers, including Alberto Gasbarri, coordinator of Papal trips outside Italy.
Some 240,000 young people from all over the world have already registered for the Aug. 16-21 youth day, 23,000 of whom are from outside the European Union (and therefore requiring special visas), with large groups from Latin America and Africa.
The government representative pledged to issue free visas to pilgrims, following the usual processing requirements.
As well, Jáuregui promised the support of 6,000 troops of the State Security Corps and Forces.
Although the state leaders will not contribute financially to the event, they have collaborated in facilitating the venues and infrastructure.
Challenge and urgency
As another part of the preparations for the event, the Redemptorists are organizing a gathering regarding music, art and liturgy, with the aim of giving greater impetus to these aspects of the youth day.
The Redemptorists have been holding these annual "Emauli" Encounters on Music, Art and Liturgy since 2008, but this year's event, which will take place Feb. 18-20 in Madrid, has special significance due to the upcoming World Youth Day.
They expressed the hope that this gathering will help people to prepare for the August youth day, which will be "an ecclesial event of the first order and an impressive opportunity for young people to discover the joy of being Christians and of living it in community."
For the Redemptorist missionaries, young people are "a challenge and, at the same time, an urgency."
A communiqué explained that youth are "a challenge because in them the expression of the Gospel is spontaneous and revealing of a new way of Christian life."
It added that they are also "an urgency because young people are abandoned by the pastoral activity of many Christian communities and they need space to reflect, to coexist and to pray."
The communiqué affirmed, "That is why the Redemptorist communities of Spain always have their doors open to young people."