Światowe Dni Młodzieży Sydney 2008

W 1985 roku Ojciec Święty Jan Paweł II pisze List Apostolski do młodych z okazji ONZ-towskiego Miedzynarodowego Roku Młodzieży oraz ogłasza ustanowienie Światowych Dni Młodzieży. Do Rzymu przybywa 350 000 młodych z całego świata. Odtąd każdego roku spotyka się w Rzymie z młodzieżą w Niedzielę Palmową zaś co dwa – trzy lata w innym wyznaczonym przez niego miejscu na kuli ziemskiej.
Te papieskie spotkania w wymiarze międzynarodowym stały się największym festiwalem młodzieżowym na świecie. Dotąd odbyły się: w Rzymie, Buones Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Czestochowie, Denver, Manilii, Paryżu, Toronto i Kolonii gromadzac setki tysięcy a nawet miliony młodych pielgrzymów.
Od 15 do 20 lipca 2008 roku Światowe Dni Młodzieży odbyły się w Sydney, w Australii.

sobota, 30 sierpnia 2008

Sydney: Bishop's reflections on WYD SYD 08

Bp.Julian Porteous - Sydney Achidiocese. fot.K.Bajkowski

As the last pilgrims leave Australia we can ask ourselves the question: What happened over the week or so of this most extraordinary event, World Youth Day 2008?
I am sure we all have many stories and experiences.
For everyone I believe it is true that it exceeded expectations and it has had a remarkable effect on the city of Sydney and on Australia.
It has been a time of great grace not only for the Catholic Church, but for the nation.
I would like to offer some of my own reflections.

1. A Church that is young and vibrant

For many in Australia there is a perception that the Church has become old and tired.
Many secularists have been becoming increasingly confident that the Church will soon crumble into irrelevance. They have been secretly enjoying the polls showing declining attendance at Mass and the shortage of vocations. They have been exploiting things like incidents of sexual abuse by the clergy. They believe that the Church will roll into history and there will be a new enlightened Age of Reason. The secularists believe that we are in a post Christian era, and the Church has no future.
But WYD was a shock! They witnessed a Church young and vital, able to engage with youth. A Church which has a future!
Even within the Church there is a generation of Catholics who have weathered the period since the Second Vatican Council but have lost confidence in the Church. They want the Church to become, to their way of thinking, relevant to the times and change what they see as its “outdated” positions especially on sexual ethics.

But for these critics of the Church the WYD pilgrims have surprised them. They have none of their jaundiced attitudes. These young pilgrims love the Church. They believe in the Church. They look to the Church confident in its teaching. They trust the teaching of the Church and especially that of the Holy Father.

Another group believes the only mission for the Church is to be radically committed to social justice and ecology. For them the Church is about social change. It is about making a difference to the social, political and ecological environment. For them the Church has a temporal project.

While the Church should contribute to the temporal wellbeing of people, this is not its primary mission. Its mission is centred on love and not only justice, as Pope Benedict explained in his great encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. The Church’s mission of love can only come from engagement with the God “who is love”.

The young pilgrims witnessed to a great hope for the future of the Church. They are not bogged down with foreboding. They have a joy in being Catholic and wish to live their faith. They do not carry baggage of criticism and negativity towards the Church. They have confidence in the Church. They are unabashed in their identity as Catholics.

This was a refreshing breeze that blew through the city as the pilgrims walked and sang, draped in their flags and multi coloured jackets, happily declaring their faith with an uncomplicated freedom.

2. Joy
What has astounded the city of Sydney has been the effusion of joy over the WYD period. I have heard taxi drivers, waiters in restaurants, ordinary people on the streets, say that they wish it could continue to be like this all the time. They were amazed at the spirit in the pilgrims.

The great witness of the WYD to the city of Sydney was the joy in the hearts of the young people. What amazed people was that they did not need alcohol or drugs to manufacture this joy. It was genuine and flowed from hearts full of faith.

This joy challenged people to look at what Christian faith has to offer. It was perhaps the strongest witness of all to the truth of the Christian message. People could see that it was not manufactured in any way, not put on. It was simple, humble and absolutely real.

It was infectious. Police loved being with the young people. Bus drivers joined in the singing. Train carriages were caught up with the spirit.

It washed over the city. Many people were deeply touched by this unaffected happiness.

Joy is an authentic sign of the Kingdom of God. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed by St Paul in his Letter to the Galatians. The WYD in Sydney was a little taste of heaven where love rules!

3. Truth
I was involved in a television program being beamed live to Italy and the presenter asked a group of young people what inspired them about the WYD and one young man said that it was the words of the Pope. He said he was touched by what the Pope had to say. The presenter then commented that some journalists were saying that the message of the Pope was too complex and that it was hard to understand. The young man commented that he had no problem understanding the Pope.

This revealed something significant: the young people are attuned to the message of the Pope. They look to him. They trust him. They know that he speaks the truth. It is testimony to their faith. They are open and able to receive things of the spirit.

Pope Benedict gave some profound reflections on the significance of faith and the role of the Holy Spirit today. Young people want something solid. They are not interested in shallow and superficial messages. The young pilgrims came looking to be spiritually fed and they were not disappointed.

One of the comments made by many of the bishops was that the highlight of the WYD for them was the catechesis. It was certainly for me. The young people were open and responsive. Their questions revealed a genuine searching. The bishops gave a solid catechesis, a teaching on themes given to them by the Pontifical Council for the Laity – the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual believer, the Holy Spirit as the soul of the Church, the Holy Spirit as the agent for mission.

The young people were attentive. They asked good and searching questions. They had a thirst for the truth. They understand what Pope Benedict is saying - relativism is not the answer, we must devote ourselves to finding the truth.

4. Reverence
There was a profound moment during the Vigil at Randwick which many have commented upon. It was the moment when the Blessed Sacrament was brought out onto the altar for adoration. A silence fell over the crowd. This crowd that had been singing and dancing, this crowd that had been full of youthful exuberance, suddenly went profoundly quiet.

There were two other moments of profound silence: one was at the final scenes of the Stations of the Cross and the other was after Holy Communion at the final Mass.

The young people attending this WYD had a keen sense of what is sacred. They have a reverence for the things of God. They can sing and dance, but more than that they can enter into deep prayer.

I am told that people could not get into the tents for adoration during the vigil as they were full. One man said he came back to the tent at 4am and there were still many young people in prayer, but there was enough space for him to get in to pray. Some young people were in deep prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for long periods of time. These pilgrims have discovered silent interior prayer.

Some priests were saying to me that you cannot understand the WYD until you hear confessions. There were 1000 priests hearing confessions. Priests told me that they went for hours on end hearing confessions. Many told me of some of the most wonderful moments of their priesthood were experienced at this WYD. This is one of the great graces of the WYD. The confession is the moment of personal conversion. Many young pilgrims will leave Sydney being in a new place with God.

5. Evangelisation
Pope John Paul, the father of WYD, spoke on a number of occasions in the latter years of his pontificate of a belief that the Church would enter into a new springtime in the early years of the third millennium. I believe this WYD witnesses to a new era for the Church.

There clearly is a growing tide of young Catholics who have discovered the Lord in his Church. In one way or another they have met Jesus Christ and now live in him. They have met him in one way or another through his Church, through the ministry of the Church.

They are unashamedly, indeed, passionately Catholic. They want to live their faith in and through the Church. They are proud of their Catholic faith.

They want to proclaim their faith. They do not want to hide it under a bushel. They want to declare their faith before the world.

We see these young pilgrims signing up to Catholic organisations and wanting to contribute to causes for the faith.

Here are signs of a new era of evangelisation.

The way ahead

This WYD has been an extraordinary grace for the Church here in Australia. It has provided a wonderful opportunity for us. There are now tens of thousands of young Australian Catholics wanting to be involved with their faith.

It is as though the WYD ploughed the hardened soil of the hearts of many Australians. Where in the past the efforts of the Church to engage with young people proved difficult, now one senses there is a new possibility. Many thousands of young Catholics now want to participate in the Church.

Seeds have been planted. They need to be nurtured towards the harvest.

It is a great challenge for us to meet the needs of the young people returning from WYD: to gather them together, to provide them with formation, to guide them and help them grow in their faith.

For this task we need to mobilise what resources we have. We, as a Church, now need to devote our efforts to helping the grace of WYD resting in the hearts of so many young people to be nurtured.

fot. K.Bajkowski

Karachi journalists give "thumbs up".

Two visiting Pakistani journalists have given World Youth Day a huge “thumbs up”, rating the organisation of events and hospitality as “first-class”.

Julius Nadeem Gill (editor) and Zahid Hussain (sub-editor), who covered the event for Agahi, a weekly newspaper published by the Catholic archdiocese of Karachi, say being able to witness events such as the Opening and Final Mass, and Stations of the Cross was a “fantastic experience”.

We came as pilgrims and having that faith all around you from youth all over the world was inspiring,” said Zahid, who is a Muslim.

I was impressed by the planning, the helpful nature of the volunteers and the hospitality of Sydneysiders.

Our Homestay hosts were so generous towards us and made our first visit to Sydney all the more memorable.

He added: Being a pilgrim at World Youth Day, I felt like I was part of a global village.

I think World Youth Day was a great platform for interfaith dialogue.

Zahid met Julius while the two were at university studying communications.

He agreed to help his Catholic friend when Julius was appointed editor of the paper.

Julius added: Being a Catholic and seeing the Pope for the first time made me feel like I was part of a global Catholic community.

I really enjoyed meeting so many people who share my faith. Being at World Youth Day has definitely strengthened my faith.

There are more than three million Catholics in Pakistan among a population of 160 million.

Julius said faith is strong among Christians in Pakistan.

Pakistan has a long history of Christianity; people attend church in great numbers on Sundays and on weekdays - he said.

DAMIR GOVORCIN, The Catholic Weekly