Young people carrying the Pilgtim Cross of the WYD Young people carrying the Pilgtim Cross of the WYD 

700 youths from Panama attend WYD in Lisbon

The delegation from the central-American nation which hosted the 36th WYD is led by Cardinal José Luis Lacunza.

By Lisa Zengarini

Amongst the one million young pilgrims expected in Lisbon this week there are also some 700 youths from Panama, where the last World Youth Day was held in 2019 and Pope Francis attended, marking his third WYD, after Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, on 22-29 July 2013, and Krakow, Poland, on 27-31 July 2016.

The delegation is accompanied by Cardinal José Luis Lacunza of the diocese of David; Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama and Bishop Manuel Ochogavía, of Colón-Kuna Yala, lead bishop for Youth Ministry, along with  10 priests, a deacon, 7 seminarians, and 30 volunteers.

The Panama WYD in 2019

Panama was the fifth American country to host a WYD since Pope St. John Paul II convened the first one in Rome in 1985. The other four were held in Buenos Aires in his home country Argentina (1987), Denver, in the United States (1993), Toronto in Canada (2002) and Rio de Janeiro.  All the other World Youth Days, except Sydney, which was held in 2008, have taken place in Europe.

Some 1,2 million participants joined the gathering under the Marian theme "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

For the first time ever, a pre-Youth Day meeting of more than 1,000 young people from various indigenous peoples from different parts of the world was held at Soloy, in the Panamanian diocese of David, preluding to the Special Assembly of Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region in Rome in October that year.

Pope Francis' Apostolic Journey to Panama

During the Apostolic Journey to Panama the theme of migration loomed large.

Pope Francis reiterated his call on society and the Church not to turn their backs on those who migrate due to poverty and violence, and questioned the building of the wall on the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration to the U.S., saying it was “senseless and irresponsible” to stigmatize migrants and see all of them as threats to society.

He also pointed against other forms of exclusion. During a visit to a church-run home for people infected with Hiv, Pope Francis called for an end to the indifference towards the poor and the sick, because, “indifference can also wound and kill”, he said. “The Good Samaritan, whether in the parable or in all of your homes, shows us that our neighbour is first of all a person, someone with a real, particular face, not something to avoid or ignore, whatever his or her situation may be”.

In his  homily at the closing Mass in Panama City, Pope Francis again urged young people to work against “fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation”. ”You dear people are not the future but the now of God,” he  told the pilgrims.

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01 August 2023, 15:00