World Youth Day, 65,000 Italians in Lisbon with Pope Francis

Final preparations in Lisbon for World Youth Day with Pope Francis, which will be held next week from 1 to 6 August. One million young people are expected in the Portuguese capital, according to organizers’ estimates.

65 thousand Italians leaving

Officially, 330,000 have registered to date but, as always, most will register at the last moment or will not register at all even if they take part in the event. The largest group is that of young Portuguese, followed by the Spanish and in third place, with 65,000 young people ready to leave, is Italy.

All eyes will then be on the delegations of Ukraine and Russia. From the “battered” country, as Pope Francis always defines it, five hundred will arrive, mostly girls and young priests because martial law does not allow young men to travel. From Russia, which has always been present at the WYD, there are no official indications but there is talk of a presence of a few dozen young people.

The Italian delegation

To accompany the Italian delegation – which sees 180 Dioceses represented – 106 Bishops together with priests, men and women religious, educators and animators. In the Portuguese capital they will have “Casa Italia” as their point of reference, a place to find information and materials, solve problems, as well as to meet, get together and share experiences, even with those who stayed at home or on social networks thanks to the free wifi. The secretariat of the National Service for Youth Ministry which will offer assistance to those accompanying and group leaders, an Embassy office and a medical center.

Compared to the official program of the WYD, the Italian children will participate from 2 to 4 August in the catecheses which will be held by the Bishops in the accommodation places of the pilgrims. On 2 August, at 8 pm (Portuguese time), the Passeio Maritimo de Algés will host the Festa degli Italiani, a moment of sharing and reflection broadcast live by Tv2000 starting at 9 pm (Italian time).

The prayer for peace

On Saturday 5 August, the Pope will return to Fatima, after his 2017 visit, precisely to pray for peace. “I would like to see in Lisbon a seed of the world of the future. A world where love is at the centre, where we can feel like sisters and brothers. We are at war, we need something else”, the Pope said in a video message. Then he asked the boys not to leave room in life “for selfishness or for laziness”. Bergoglio will be in Portugal from 2 to 6 August.

Attention to the environment

This is the first WYD after the pandemic and will have an eye towards sustainability. Instead of the paper material there will be an app, the kids will be able to measure their “carbon footprint” every day to try to have more ‘green’ behaviour. Precise indications have already been issued on separate waste collection and on the presence of fountains to fill one’s water bottles, avoiding plastic bottles. In any case, the organization, with the support of the Global Tree Initiative, will offset part of the environmental footprint generated with the planting of new trees.