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placeholder September 5, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
World Youth Day

Panama site of WYD in 2019

Panama, which will host World Youth Day in 2019, is a small country, in which Catholics traditionally make up three-quarters of the 3.3 million inhabitants.

Cardinal Jose Lacunza Maestrojuan of David, Panama, has no doubts the church will be able to organize the event.

"Panama, with its canal, is a bridge between two continents, and we'll also make it a symbolic bridge between young people, especially in Latin America," said Cardinal Maestrojuan.

Panama is well-placed for air, road and sea communications with North and South America and would give the World Youth Day a distinctive character.

"We truly hope this will be a blessing for our country, placing it at the center of the whole world's attention," Cardinal Maestrojuan said.

Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama told journalists Pope Francis had "once again surprised us" by choosing Central America as a venue, adding that World Youth Day would be an opportunity to "promote the region's youth."

"Panama's youngsters are suffering from mass emigration, unemployment, violence and (human) trafficking — so this will be a great stimulus for us to start again," the archbishop said. "It'll also be important for following the pope's call to bring the faith to the peripheries. Panama is one of those peripheries, and the World Youth Day will achieve this end."

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela attended the final weekend of World Youth Day with his wife, Lorena Castillo, visiting Wadowice, hometown of St. John Paul II, and the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. He accepted rosaries at a Spanish prayer service at Krakow's Divine Mercy Sanctuary and met the pope after the closing World Youth Day Mass.

In a July 31 statement, he said he was happy Pope Francis had recognized that Panama's values of "peace, dialogue and coexistence" were similar to those of World Youth Day, adding that his government would back the Catholic Church in facilitating "an event which includes every part of society."

 
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