Earlier this week a press conference was held at the John Paul II Hall of the Vatican Press Office, to present the status of preparations at less than 50 days before the start of the upcoming
. [singlepic id=35 w=240 float=right]Following the disclosure of the final agenda of Benedict XVI last weekend, the international media accredited by the Holy See received a first-hand account of the latest developments in the preparations for WYD.
Cardinal Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (the Vatican department that oversees WYD), was happy to share that currently some 400,000 pilgrims are registered for WYD. This is the highest number of pilgrims registered for any WYD at over a month and a half before the start date. He also emphasized that WYD is "an extraordinary experience of a Church that is a friend to the youth, which places herself at the service of the new generations. It is an experience of the Universal Church which embraces the entire planet, a young Church, full of enthusiasm." He also highlighted the importance of offering religious formation to young people, both in the preparations and at the 260 catechesis in 30 languages that will be held during WYD.
Cardinal Rouco, Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee for World Youth Day, explained that the preparations are now coming to an end thanks to the cooperation of all those who are making WYD Madrid possible. The Cardinal also mentioned the invaluable assistance of a great many components of Spanish civil society, highlighting the collaboration of parishes, movements and institutions of the Church, volunteers, the various public administrations – the Government, City Hall, and Community of Madrid – as well as the media sources that collaborate with WYD.
Yago de la Cierva, Executive Director of World Youth Day, spoke about the important work of the 22,500 volunteers who have been key to organizing an event of this size, which is expected to see more than one million young people arrive in Madrid this August. De la Cierva also revealed the great “excitement” organizers experienced when the Pope accepted the proposal – for the first time in a WYD – to hear the confessions of several young people during the Festival of Forgiveness to be held in Madrid's Parque del Retiro.
The Executive Director of World Youth Day also highlighted the importance of the Solidarity Fund, "essential in enabling young people around the world, in places where the Church is persecuted or has financial difficulties, to fulfill their dream and attend this upcoming WYD."
For Elsa Vázquez, an international volunteer, a Mexican with residence in Australia, this has been "a wonderful experience of a lifetime," that is changing her life and inspires her to convey this message to the world.
José Antonio Martínez, Director of WYD Hospitality, gave an update on the latest registration statistics, highlighting the numerous registrations of Italian and French youth, the two largest groups.
If you are interested in learning more about World Youth or to follow Salt + Light's coverage of the event, August 16-21, you can do so at WYD Central