.- Citing religious oppression in their home countries, 45 young people who took part in World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have asked the country for refugee status.
The young pilgrims from Pakistan, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo said that they suffer “persecution” and “threats” in their countries for professing the Catholic faith.
The pilgrims had joined more than three million young people from around the world who journeyed to Rio last month to celebrate World Youth Day through catechesis, fellowship, sacraments and prayer with Pope Francis.
According to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro has received 40 requests to mediate in petitions for refugee status, with five other requests made to the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo.
The requests will now go before Brazil’s National Committee for Refugees.
Currently the young people are being given “assistance, lodging and meals” by Catholic volunteers and municipal authorities.