.- Amid news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro said the new Pope elected in the upcoming conclave will attend World Youth Day this summer.
During Mass at a parish in Rio, Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta said that when he spoke with Benedict XVI about the event, the Holy Father told him, “The Pope will go to World Youth Day. Me or my successor.”
The archbishop confirmed that plans are proceeding normally to prepare for the 27th World Youth Day, which will be held in Rio on July 23-28.
Begun by Pope John Paul II in 1985, the event is hosted in different cities throughout the world and includes prayer, catechesis and cultural activities, along with an overnight vigil and messages from the Pope.
The theme for the 2013 World Youth Day is “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Its symbols are the cross and icon of Our Lady.
In his official message for the gathering in Rio, Pope Benedict stressed that happiness is found by living “in accordance with God’s plan.”
“We reaffirm that our work is continuing and that World Youth Day will take place,” Archbishop Tempesta said. “Right now I invite everyone to pray for the Pope, who has done something very courageous.”
The archbishop’s comments came shortly after Pope Benedict announced on Feb. 11 that he will be retiring at the end of the month. Citing his advanced age and waning strength, the Holy Father said that he could no longer exercise his ministry adequately.
The College of Cardinals will meet in early March to elect a new pontiff.
This would not be the first time a new Pope would attend a World Youth Day gathering convened by his predecessor. Pope Benedict himself traveled to Cologne in 2005 for World Youth Day, which had been announced by Blessed John Paul II before his death.
The Rio 2013 Organizing Committee also released a statement reaffirming that the event will take place with the presence of the Pope.
“We await the process of the election of new Supreme Pontiff,” the committee said, adding that “(t)he organization of the event continues” with prayers for the Holy Father.