.- Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro said World Youth Day 2013 has had a positive impact on the country, not only in economic terms, but also as far as Catholic witness.
“Copacabana has never seen so many joyful and peaceful people committed to building a better world,” he said, referring to the more than three million young people who lined the beach for the Closing Mass.
Speaking at a July 30 press conference to thank volunteers, host families and organizers of World Youth Day, the archbishop said the event’s success can ultimately be attributed to God.
He pointed to numerous changes that had taken place during the planning process.
“There was even a change of Popes, but we were able to hold a beautiful World Youth Day and serve all the young people,” he said.
“It was an event without any violence or crime,” he added. “And those positive signs that we saw in young people should continue. We want these young people, inspired by World Youth Day, to continue to be the protagonists of a new world.”
Pilgrims from 175 countries registered for the World Youth Day events, Archbishop Tempesta said. The majority were between the ages of 19 and 34. Fifty-five percent of registrants were women, and 45 percent were men.
According to tourism estimates, pilgrims spent nearly 1.8 billion Brazilian reales – the local currency – during the event.
Four million hosts were made for the various Masses, the archbishop continued, and the final Mass drew more than three million participants, including 664 bishops and 7,814 priests. Catechesis sessions took place at 264 locations throughout the city and in 25 languages.
During the press conference, Archbishop Tempesta said that each time Pope Francis flew over the Christ the Redeemer statue, he prayed and gazed upon the monument with admiration.
Recalling an encounter between a 9-year-old Brazilian boy who climbed up on Pope Francis’ vehicle to talk to him and embrace him, the archbishop said that the boy “demonstrated the affection of the entire Brazilian people.”