.- Pope Benedict XVI has introduced his upcoming World Youth Day message, recalling “with deep gratitude” the 2008 event in Sydney and looking forward to the 2011 international event to be held in Madrid.
Marking the 24th annual World Youth Day this coming Palm Sunday, the Pope will celebrate a Mass at which possession of the World Youth Day Cross will transfer from Australian youth to Spanish youth.
Calling World Youth Day Sydney “a most memorable encounter” of spiritual renewal, he said “the joy of celebration and spiritual enthusiasm experienced during those few days was an eloquent sign of the presence of the Spirit of Christ.”
The Pope noted the World Youth Day 2009 theme is taken from 1 Tim 4:10: “We have set our hope on the living God.”
To plan World Youth Day 2011, the organizing committees of Sydney 2008 and Madrid 2011 will meet April 3 to 5 with delegates from about 70 countries. They will be joined by about 150 people who work in youth ministry around the world and representatives from 35 international Catholic communities, association and movements.
The sessions will begin on Friday with a greeting from Cardinal Stanislaw Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Speakers will hear evaluations of Sydney 2008 with talks by Cardinal George Pell and Bishop Anthony Fisher, who will speak about the fruits of the event in Sydney and in all of Australia.
A Mass presided by Cardinal Pell will conclude the first day.
Saturday sessions will discuss World Youth Day in Madrid, with Archbishop of Madrid Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela and Bishop César Franco Martínez.
Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will present the Pope’s message for the 24th World Youth Day, while Cardinal Ryłko will give concluding remarks.