With open arms

First messages also for the Churches of Europe

"When preparing a large event such as the WYD we should ask ourselves what will be its legacy. My thought goes to the 36th International Eucharistic Congress in Rio de Janeiro of 1995, which thanks to the commitment of Archbishop Helder Camara left to our city the Providence Bank of Saint Sebastian, to provide assistance to the poor and the outcast". Father Cônego Manuel Manangão, executive director of the Department for Social Work of the WYD in Rio de Janeiro (July 23-28 2013) goes back in time to introduce the question of support to the needy, which the organizing Committee of the Day considers a theme that needs to be addressed at length, and not only in the ongoing preparatory stage. The plague of drugs. "Today – he said – our youths are hit by the plague of drug addiction and trafficking that everyone is affected by, including families, social and pastoral workers, educators and teachers. Figures from the Ministry of Health show that drugs are assumed for the first time, on average, at the age of 13. The WYD wishes to leave a legacy to this regard by promoting a three-level commitment, namely, prevention, support by means of a network of associations of drug-consumers and their families, along with the creation of support and rehabilitation centers". "There are many families and youths in need of help, and they don’t know who to turn to – points our father Manangão -. In the Aparecida document of May 2007, released by bishops of Latin America and the Caribbeans (CELAM) at the end of their assembly, the problem of drug addiction is described like a oil spill that invades everything, with no geographic or human boundaries. It attacks the rich and the poor, children, youth, adults, men and women. The Church cannot remain indifferent to this plague that is destroying humanity, notably the young generations. We must become their beacon of hope. This is both our challenge and our benefaction". The social feature of the WYD in Rio was confirmed to SIR Europe by the Archbishop, Msgr. Orani João Tempesta. Significantly, the WYD returns to Latin America after 26 years, the last time was in Buenos Aires in 1987. "As part of the spirit of the Day – said the prelate – we decided to introduce social issues, by promoting the creation of dedicated centers for drug rehabilitation and the planning of an ad hoc hospital in Rio de Janeiro. Inter alia, the WYD program includes an event dedicated to ecology" set against the background of the spiritual dimension of the WYD, "a great celebration of Christian witness whereby we hope that the youth will be faith testimonies to the rest of the world. For Latin America and for Brazil this faith testimony will leave in its wake the rejuvenation of faith, a renewed desire that by listening to Christ’s message, an ever greater number of young people may decide to follow the Lord, living their faith in all circumstances". A continental mission. The social topic is linked to the missionary theme, referred to on many occasions by the Archbishop of Rio and underlined in the theme of the Day, “Go and make disciples of all nations". "Since the 2007 CELAN Conference in Aparecida, the Latin American Church lives a continental vocation to mission. All of our communities are engaged in this. The theme chosen for the WYD is thus a result of the apostolate and mission experienced by the Church. It confirms the path already undertaken, since our communities, in general, are committed in bringing forth a permanent, continental mission, providing renewed thrust to missionary zeal in order to involve young people worldwide". The image that the Brazilian Church and the Church of Rio are committed to, reiterates Msgr. Tempesta, "is the image of Christ the Redeemer with his arms open – for which our city is renowned in the whole world –, a symbol of sincere reception that the Brazilian people wish to give everyone to multiply the grace offered by this embrace, namely, that the centre of our life and of our work is Christ, proclaiming the Good News to everyone for the new humanity". This missionary zeal includes the revival of Church-youth relations, overshadowed by episodes of sexual abuse on children committed by religious and priests. "The Church –answers the archbishop – seeks to bring a life of intense conversion to everyone. Unfortunately there are ongoing problems, since the Church consists of people, some of whom may incur in different kinds of error. However, we believe that Jesus Christ speaks to us and guides us with his Church. This relationship between the Church and her faithful has always been based on trust, as the flock recognizes the voice of the shepherd, and is guided by him. Faith is nurtured and revived in faithfulness and obedience to Christ, of whom we are the representatives that He himself has chosen, in spite of human fragility. At the same time, the mistakes that were made must always be acknowledged and repaired". "The great treasure of the Church and of the WYD – Msgr. Tempest concludes – are the youth, depositories of hopes in a future where Christ is recognised and loved by an ever greater number of people. They are invited and welcome to participate in this great feast through the presence, the prayer and the testimony of a livened and solid faith, rooted in our Lord Jesus".

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