VATICAN, Aug. 17 (CWNews.com) -- More than 2,000 priests heard the confessions of young
pilgrims in Rome on August 16, as thousands of World Youth Day participants heeded the Pope's call
to penance and conversion.
At the Circus Maximus, not far from the Tiber River, over 300 white temporary confessionals were
set up outdoors, and priests heard confessions in 24 different languages, remaining on duty from early
in the morning until nearly midnight.
In the Piazza Navone, too, young people from the Emmanuel Community also witnessed a stream of
confessions, as churches around that section of the city remained open throughout the day, allowing
young visitors to pray in silence or join in hymns, while priests heard confessions in booths along the
side walls. In the evening of August 16, members of different charismatic communities gathered in a
soccer stadium in northern Rome for an evening of prayer and witness. At least 15,000 young people
were on hand to hear the words of several speakers.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the chairman of the central organizing committee for the Jubilee, was
delighted with the early developments of World Youth Day, and particularly with the moving talks
delivered by young speakers. "Young people have a gift for finding the right words to describe things,"
he said. "Like one of them, I'd have to say this is 'super.'" In the evenings, the city of Rome has been
transformed, as thousands of young people roam the streets, to participate in the hundreds of different
forms of entertainment that have been organized as a part of the World Youth Day celebration. In
addition to the scores of cafes, there are open-air dances and orchestral concerts, dramatic
productions and poetry readings. Most of the pilgrims move from one site to another, exploring the city
and meeting with their contemporaries from other countries.