.- About 800 young Catholics from 25 countries and regions, mostly in Asia, have gathered for the Fourth Asian Youth Day (AYD) this week. Registrations for the nine-day event include about 240 young people from Hong Kong and 60 from mainland China. By July 30, only half of the latter had arrived, reported UCA News.
Some young people from mainland China could not come because they were unable to obtain permission from their local governments; others were hindered by flooding in some parts of the mainland, explained Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, the host of the event.
It is a pity that some Chinese officials regard this event as "an anti-China activity organized by Zen Ze-kiun," the cardinal told a press conference July 29, rather than as an Asian event.
The nine-day event, which opened July 28th, is inspired by and organized similar to the World Youth Days. AYD is not as large as World Youth Day, Cardinal Zen noted, but its strength lies in a deeper exchange among participants, due to the fewer number of participants and the similarity of their cultures, reported UCA News.
Young people from other countries were welcomed into the homes of local Catholics, from July 28 to 30. International and local participants then moved to a large campsite for the main AYD activities. This year’s theme is "Youth, Hope of Asian Families." The event ends Aug. 5th.
“Hope is what we need,” said Cardinal Zen, adding that young people are hope for the family and the Church.
Referring to the movement to legalize same-sex marriage, Cardinal Zen encouraged young people to “have the courage to accept God’s plan for the family”, which is generated by a man and a woman. Even if others disagree with the Church, he said, Catholics should not be disheartened. Rather, they should encourage one another to build a better society pleasing to God, reported UCA News.
At the press conference, Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Infanta, Philippines, thanked Cardinal Zen for his generosity and courage to host AYD.
Bishop Tirona told UCA News yesterday that AYD recognizes the dynamism of youth, their relevance to the Church and to the world, their concern for society, and their potential to contribute to society. It also offers them an opportunity to renew their commitment to Jesus, he said.
The first AYD was held in Thailand in 1999. The second was in Taiwan in 2001. The third took place in India in 2003.