Monday, January 28, 2019
"I think the Pope is sensitive to cooperation with Portuguese-speaking African Countries. We are close to Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea, Mozambique: this vicinity is very important since for moment there are not the conditions to hold a World Youth Day in Africa. I think this aspect has played a role in the Pope’s decision. There are many Africans living in Lisbon.” It is the opinion of Cardinal Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon.
“I am very pleased because we had been waiting for this to happen for a long time. And I am happy not only for Lisbon but for all Portuguese dioceses. A WYD here in our Country was a longstanding dream. Now it’s a fact. Our dream came true.” Cardinal Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon, is thrilled. While in Panama, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, announced that the next World Youth Day will be in Lisbon, in 2022. “Now we will put our full creativity into this endeavour” His Eminence exclaimed.
Your Eminence, which youths will attend the WYD in Lisbon?
This WYD reflects a relatively new development in Portugal, namely, the missionary zeal of Catholic youths, especially in Universities. It’s unprecedented. In fact it seems that the students themselves have convinced the Pope to hold the WYD here in Portugal.
Can it be defined as the renaissance of Portuguese Catholic youths?
Obviously a lot still needs to be done. Especially in terms of true Christian initiation. In Portugal there is a Christian, Catholic sensitivity, especially towards Our Lady of Fatima. However, a true Christian initiation is needed so that the Christian community may a place of Gospel learning, a place where the Gospel is lived out and the ministry is carried out in full.
It’s always a difficult job, because Gospel proclamation is a challenge. There is need for conversion.
Moreover, we see this same situation throughout Europe: our Country has ancient Christian roots, but the prevailing mentality and culture today is not inherently Christian. This calls into question especially life-related themes, as well as those pertaining to the family.
Your Eminence, have you already started working? Organizing a WYD is always a major challenge….
We have already started. And we started with the fundamental cooperation of public authorities because organizing a WYD entails major logistics organization. This can be done only with the authorization and the active cooperation of public authorities. It is no coincidence that the mayor of Lisbon and the President of Portugal have both attended the WYD in Panama. Portuguese dioceses share fruitful cooperation.
What motivated the Pope to bring the WYD to Panama?
I think the Pope was sensitive to cooperation with Portuguese-speaking African countries: because we are very close to Angola, to Cape Vert, to Guinea, Mozambique, and this closeness is very important given the fact that for the time being there are not the conditions to hold a Day in Africa. I think the Pope’s decision had a role in this respect. There is a large African population living in Lisbon.
What do you expect from this day?
As a pastor I expect greater conversion and more Gospel proclamation. This is what I expect. The WYD is an extraordinary opportunity to make a strong experience of Christianity – an experience of Christ with us – and to expand our horizons. This is what I look forward to.
Which words does Portugal and Europe expect to hear from Pope Francis?
I think they expect to hear the words with which the Pope has addressed the youths here in Panama. To be the ‘Now’ of God. You, dear young people, are the now, the Church. And now is the time to build your future. Now, today. Young people welcomed the Pope’s emphasis with a warm applause. They are the now of the Gospel.
Portugal is Fatima.
What Fatima means for Portugal is visible to all. The number of pilgrims visiting Fatima increases every year. The fact that pilgrimages to the Holy Virgin become a life-changing experience for everyone is impressive.
Lisbon has 4 suffragan dioceses. Will you involve the other dioceses in the province?
We plan to hold some of the events in Fatima, albeit not the main ones of the WYD, which we expect to be held in Lisbon. The closeness to Spain, the participation of Portuguese-speaking Brazilians and Africans, the presence of tourists -as the WYD will be held in the summer – portend very high numbers. We expect over one million youths to attend the Day. That’s why Fatima cannot be the main site of the WYD. Young people will visit Fatima, they must go to Fatima. But we will be needing a larger venue.
Have you identified the venue?
Not yet. But the Synod on Young People and its final document signal a greater role of young people inside the Church. Perhaps our theme will be identified therein.
Are you concerned about the scope of this organization?
I am more than 70 years old. And time teaches us to take things easy.
[M. Chiara Biagioni – SIR]