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“Lisbon welcomes you wholeheartedly,” says cardinal at WYD

Pilgrims-attend-the-opening-mass-of-the-World-Youth-Day-2023-AFP

THOMAS COEX | AFP

I.Media - published on 08/01/23

During the opening Mass homily, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, patriarch of Lisbon, greeted and encouraged the participants.

“I want you to feel ‘at home’ here.” This is how the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, welcomed the thousands of young Catholics from all over the world at the opening mass of World Youth Day on the evening of August 1, 2023. In his homily, the Portuguese prelate stressed the benefits of real-life encounters in an increasingly virtual world. 

Hundreds of thousands of young people converged on the huge Edouard VII Park — renamed “Encounter Hill” for the duration of the WYD — to attend the opening mass of this major global event.  

Many of the groups were delayed by traffic in the Portuguese capital and arrived late for the mass. Under cloudy but still summery skies, the young people gathered together for the first time in a friendly atmosphere where over 200 nationalities mingled — a record for a WYD

To the sound of a powerful orchestra and choir, dozens of priests and bishops took their places on the stage built for the occasion, on which an altar had been placed. On the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in Lisbon, 75-year-old Cardinal Clemente presided over the mass and welcomed the 354,000 officially registered young people in his capacity as the city’s archbishop. 

In his homily, the Patriarch of Lisbon spoke of the theme of this year’s WYD: “Mary arose and set out in haste.” “All of you also set out. For many it was a difficult journey due to the distance, the connections, and the costs that the trip required,” he acknowledged, underlining the solidarity that enabled some pilgrims to reach Portugal. 

To these young people born in the digital age, he explained that the virtual “keeps us seated.” “Quite to the contrary, reality consists in going out to encounter others and the world as it is, both to admire and make better,” he insisted.

The Patriarch also spoke of the “urgent need to proclaim” the Christian message. But “an urgency that is serene and without trampling,” he added. Finally, Cardinal Clemente used the example of Mary’s greeting to her cousin Elizabeth in the Gospel to teach young people. “Let us learn from Mary to greet each and every person. Let us put it into practice intensely during this World Youth Day,” he recommended, arguing that “the new world begins in the newness of every encounter and in the sincerity of the greeting we exchange.”

The mass ended with the official theme song of the Lisbon WYD, “Há Pressa no Ar” (“There’s Haste in the Air”), taken up by the thousands of faithful and the fluttering of thousands of flags. 

Tomorrow, Pope Francis will arrive in Lisbon at 10am (local time). He will first greet the country’s leaders. At the end of the day, he will meet with the clergy for vespers and a homily.

Tags:
PortugalWorld Youth Day
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