.- Seven years after his death, Blessed Pope John Paul II is inspiring those organizing the 2013 World Youth Day in Brazil.
“World Youth Day was an initiative by Pope John Paul II, who was born 7 years ago into heaven, and so there is a big responsibility on us to move things forward in Rio de Janeiro,” Archbishop Orani João Tempesta said to CNA on April 2.
World Youth Day was initiated by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1984. He is now co-patron of the international youth gathering, along with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
“At this World Youth Day in Rio we want to bring young people to the city to say that God loves all the young and that they have a lot of work to do in this world to make this world a little better,” said Archbishop Tempesta, who leads the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.
The 61-year-old Brazilian cleric has been in Rome to participate in the first international preparatory meeting for those organizing the 2013 World Youth Day. The four-day summit concluded April 1 and was followed by an April 2 briefing for the media on the latest developments.
Archbishop Tempesta told CNA that organizers aim to “make the core events in the South Zone of the city,” while the concluding prayer vigil and Mass on Sunday “will be on the West Zone of Rio.” The final decision on the venues still requires final approval from a Vatican organizing team that will visit Brazil later this year.
The Rio archbishop added that official bookings for pilgrim groups will first become available in July 2012.
The six-day festival will take place July 23-28 and is currently estimated to bring 2 million pilgrims to the city. Archbishop Tempesta said that “the aid of 60,000 volunteers” will be required to marshal the event and that 16,000 have already been signed up.
The organizers have made an effort to make information available online and present on social media. The event’s website, www.rio2013.com, is available in five languages and its Facebook and Twitter accounts already have “over 600,000 followers.”
More than 200 entries were submitted for the official logo, with the winning design coming from 25-year-old artist Gustavo Huguenin from Rio de Janeiro. The heart-shaped logo incorporates the national colors of Brazil along with some of the symbols of Rio, including the city’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
The official hymn for the celebration will be decided on by this July. So far, 180 proposals for the text of the hymn have been sent in. The next step, the archbishop explained, “will be the competition for the melody for that chosen text.”
Archbishop Tempesta has been accompanied in his visit to Rome by a delegation of civic officials from Rio, including the city’s mayor, Dr. Eduardo Paes.
Although World Youth Day usually occurs every three years, the Rio de Janeiro gathering comes only two years after the previous event in Madrid. This was to avoid a clash with the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 which are both being hosted by Rio.
At today’s press briefing, the President for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, said that the Brazilian city authorities realize that “in a sense” World Youth Day “will be a more important event” that the two sporting competitions that follow it.
“Both the number of participants, and because young people today need first and foremost to be rooted in faith and in the great family of the Church to contribute more and better to the life of society,” he said.
Cardinal Rylko also praised World Youth Day as “a prophetic intuition of Blessed John Paul II,” which has “worked a revolution in the field of youth ministry.”
The preparatory meeting, he said, clearly recognized that “the primary mission of the Church” is “to train new generations of Christians to fully live the Gospel and to transmit it with joy.”
Archbishop Tempesta concluded his briefing by recalling the words of Cardinal Rylko at the end of their four-day meeting, “They say all roads lead to Rome. Now we say: All roads lead to Rio.”