The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, said July 22 that Spain and Europe are suffering from “a crisis of young people” because of the country’s low birth rate.
The cardinal, who is the Archbishop of Madrid, said the percentage of the population between 0-22 years of age is “low” and is one of the reasons why there are few vocations, not only in the Church “but in many other areas.”
Cardinal Rouco spoke during a summer seminar on the impact of World Youth Day 2011 on youth ministry at the Juan Carlos University in Aranjuez.
Regarding World Youth Day, Cardinal Rouco said everything is moving forward as planned. He noted that his main concern is ensuring that the thousands of young people who will arrive in Madrid will receive a warm welcome.
He expressed his hope that the residents of Madrid would extend “hospitality in keeping with the Christian roots of the city and showing love to those who come.”
Cardinal Rouco recalled that it was John Paul II who launched World Youth Day to reach out to young people. He came at a time in history, he said, when young people needed answers and guidance, and “with his very unique charism,” he invited them to “speak about Christ in fullness.”
The history of the event has entailed “a pilgrimage of searching for Christ” and has led to the emergence of “a young generation that lives the faith and has a very cordial relationship with the Pope and the Church,” the cardinal said.
He added that he hopes World Youth Day Madrid will lead to renewed evangelization, an increase in vocations ministry and the strengthening of the Christian family, which he called “the greatest fruit” of the youth event.