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VATICAN-WYD Jun-28-2011 (510 words) xxxi

World Youth Day registration high; many want to volunteer

Pilgrims from Spain cheer during Pope Benedict XVI's general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican earlier this year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Organizers of this year's World Youth Day say that the figures for registration and requests to volunteer are higher than ever and auger well for a successful and joyful gathering in Madrid in August.

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to attend the event and organizers said they expect more than 1 million young pilgrims to join him.

Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, who leads the Vatican agency organizing the huge event, said that some 440,000 young people had already signed up, a record number for registrations with the event still six weeks away. More than 35,000 young Catholics have applied for one of 22,500 places in the vast volunteer corps, he said.

At a news conference at the Vatican June 28, Cardinal Rylko said that every World Youth Day is "an extraordinary experience for a church that is a friend of young people, close to them with their problems" and is able to transmit "enthusiasm and missionary zeal." Young people, especially in increasingly secular Europe, "have a particular need for all of this," he said.

In fact, he said, Pope Benedict chose the Spanish capital for the Aug. 16-21 event because of the specific need of Europe to rediscover its Christian roots and because of his conviction that young people are the most effective evangelizers.

The pope will spend Aug. 18-21 in Madrid, meeting with the young people several times and even hearing the confessions of some of them. The sight of young people going to confession in fields and tents has been a standard part of World Youth Day gatherings, but the Madrid celebration will mark the first time the pope himself will administer the sacrament at the event.

Yago de la Cierva, executive director of World Youth Day, said that the organization was proceeding on time and that an efficient and widespread network among parishes and other church institutions in Madrid was contributing to the good pace of preparation.

The work of volunteers, he said, was the key ingredient in making the whole event successful.

De la Cierva said the Spanish government and local authorities were providing logistical help, certain venues and some tax breaks to companies working on the organization, but that no direct financial contribution had come from the public sector. While the total cost is expected to up to 62 million euros ($89 million), de la Cierva said it was expected to generate 100 million euros for Madrid and Spain.

Organizers also are asking the youthful participants to contribute, if they can, to help out their peers who otherwise would not be able to attend for financial reasons, de la Cierva said.

Cardinal Rylko said that one of the "strong points" of the gathering was the opportunity for youth to hear catechesis, and that some 260 bishops would be offering sessions in several different areas of the city in 30 languages. He said he hoped the nearly 14,000 priests expected would take advantage of the opportunity to learn and absorb some of the various lessons for use back in their home parishes.


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