.- The Vatican has announced that world leaders and organizers of the popular World Youth Day celebrations will gather for their first international meeting this weekend at Sassone Di Ciampino near Rome.
A communique, released yesterday by the Pontifical Council for the Laity stated that the meeting will be attended by delegates from some 85 countries as well as representatives from 45 religious communities, associations and Catholic youth movements.
On Friday, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, will recount last August's World Youth Day, which was held in that city. He will analyze the effect it had on his archdiocese and on youth pastoral care throughout Germany before looking at organizational and logistical challenges brought by the event.
On Saturday, Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell will speak on the challenges and expectations of the Australian Church, which will host World Youth Day 2008.
The delegates will gather on April 9th, Palm Sunday for a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peterâs Square. Following the liturgy, a group of young Germans will present the pilgrim World Youth Day cross to a group from Australia.
Beginning Monday, the Cross will undertake a long journey through Europe, Africa and a number of Pacific Ocean islands before arriving in Sydney in July of 2008 for the start of World Youth Day itself.