BOCCARDO: WORLD YOUTH DAY CHALLENGE
World Youth Day: Challenge For Youth To Carry Treasure
VATICAN (CWNews.com/Fides) - "Dear young people, I invite you therefore to undertake with joy the pilgrimage to Rome
for this important ecclesial appointment, which will rightly be the 'Youth Jubilee'. Prepare to enter the Holy Door, knowing that
to pass through it is to strengthen faith in Him in order to live the new life which he has given to us," says Pope John Paul II in
his special message for the 15th World Youth Day, dated June 29, 1999.
As the event set for August 14-20 nears, Fides contacted Monsignor Renato Boccardo, head of the youth section of the
Pontifical Council for the Laity and for the past ten years in charge of organizing World Youth Days, to ask him about this
special day which falls in the year of the Great Jubilee 2000.
FIDES: What themes from the Pope's message were taken to plan this Jubilee Youth Day event?
BOCCARDO: Fifteen years have passed since John Paul II, always most attentive to youth, 'invented' we might say, World
Youth Days to give young Catholics from all over the world the opportunity to come together, to pray and reflect together and
plan the future, and to grow in awareness of their vocation and mission. This year World Youth Day is set in the broader
context of the Great Jubilee celebrated by the whole Church and in his message the Pope refers in fact to the "Youth Jubilee" or
the jubilee of the young Church. It is in this framework that the educational aspect of Youth Day 2000 is set. Each Youth Day
has in fact a message which helps the young participants to reflect on a particular aspect of Christian living.
The Pope explains that in this Jubilee year the Youth Day theme reflects the subject on which the whole Church is
contemplating: the Incarnation, two thousand years since the birth of Christ, "the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us" (Jn
1:14). Many world religions believe in God, but the Christian religion distinguishes itself for the belief that God became man:
Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. This is the heart of the message which the Church has believed and proclaimed for two
thousand years and World Youth Day (abbreviated "GMG" in Italian ) is a celebration and proclamation of this truth. The Pope
calls the young to contemplate and reflect on two principal mysteries of our faith: the Incarnation and the Redemption and to
draw the consequences: by becoming man, Jesus restores the original dignity of mankind, redeems it and re-establishes it in
friendship with God. The response to contemplation of God who comes to us is holiness: the Pope urges young people not to
be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium. Holiness in fact is living in friendship with God. The challenge for young people
of two thousand is precisely to "be saints."
Reflection will be made easier by the fact that, as the Pope writes, Rome is a city-shrine, offering unique experiences: the living
memories of the Apostles, the martyrs, and the saints who lived here. Young Catholics must be helped to realize that this rich
patrimony and riches of faith is their heritage, and that they must carry into the new millennium this same faith, which they
received in their local Churches and which is proclaimed here in Rome in a more visible way through the memory of those who
have gone before us.
FIDES: The GMG is then a missionary event...
BOCCARDO: The Pope never fails to close World Youth Day with a missionary call, urging young people to be evangelizers.
The missionary mandate is a constant: the Pope encourages the young people to share their experience with others. John Paul II
insists on this dimension, referring above all to the first Letter of St John: what we have seen, heard, and touched, we announce
to you. When the celebration is over, the young people must become evangelizers proclaiming the Good News in their own
country, environment, daily life.
FIDES: Many of the world's young people today live situations of war, poverty, unemployment, does the GMG take them into
BOCCARDO: From the beginning World Youth Day has always asked young participants from rich countries to make a
contribution of US$10 to enable some less fortunate youngsters from poor lands take part. The first to contribute to this
solidarity fund is the Pope himself. The fund is a way of inviting youth in countries which are under-developed to be part of the
youth day festivities. This gesture is also intrinsically missionary: with a small sacrifice we allow less fortunate ones to share our
joy, a joy which they take away to share at home.
This year the solidarity fund extends to a project undertaken by the Italian Youth Day Committee established by the Italian
Bishops' Conference, to bring to Rome for World Youth Day young people in countries at war, or with situations of violence.
About 300 young persons from 24 countries in difficult situations have already arrived in Rome. They will spend this first period
in various dioceses all over Italy, particularly dioceses whose missionaries have worked in the youngsters' respective countries.
They will stay with local families, meet the local Christian community, missionary institutes, civil authorities and their peers. They
will then travel to Rome on August 14 to join thousands of young people from all over the world. After the GMG event these
special young people from war-torn countries will enjoy another period in the dioceses, before returning to their respective
countries at the end of August.