04/09/2016, 14.05
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Hundreds of young people from the Holy Land (and Gaza) to join Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Kraków

At least 700 young people from the parishes of the Holy Land will attend the 31st world gathering. For them, it will be an opportunity to meet and exchange with Christians from around the world. to do so, they will receive a special permit to leave from Tel Aviv. The event set in the Polish city between 26 to 31 July is centred on the theme of mercy.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – At least 700 young people from the parishes of the Holy Land will travel to Kraków (Poland) in late July for the 31st World Youth Day (WYD), centred on the theme of mercy.

They will include five youth from Gaza who will be able to part in the meeting of young men and women, Catholics and non-Catholics, from around the world.

This is a source of satisfaction, especially after 95 per cent of Gaza Christian applicants were allowed to travel to Jerusalem for Easter celebrations.

For the youth pastoral ministry of the Church of the Holy Land and the Diocese of the Holy City, the WYD in Kraków represents a major event. At the last edition in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 2013, only 30 young people were able to participate.

This time, 700 young people applied to travel to the Polish city to meet and mingle with 2.5 million or more young men and women from other dioceses around the earth.

About 100 Jordanians, and close to 200 Palestinians will be among them, including Maronites and Greek Catholics from Galilee, Catholics from Hebrew-speaking parishes, as well as a substantial number of people from ‘Chemin neo-catechumenal’ groups from Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Cyprus. All will leave from Tel Aviv Airport thanks to special permits granted on this occasion.

Pope John Paul II established WJD on Palm Sunday 1985, which had been designated as the International Youth Year by the United Nations.

The first WJD was held in Rome in 1986. This year’s event in Kraków will be the 31st edition. The chosen theme is ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain Mercy’ (Mt, 5:7), following the theme of the 2016 Jubilee Year dedicated to mercy.

For young Catholics from the Holy Land, the event will be an opportunity to experience and learn about the Church’s universality.

Before leaving for the pilgrimage to Poland, the young people will take part in preparatory meetings.

According to organisers, these sessions will be useful to prepare cultural and spiritual booklets – including one with songs – that will accompany young during their two-week stay in Poland.

The group representing the Latin Patriarchate will arrive in Poland a week before Pope Francis, and stay in a diocese close to Warsaw for a weeklong mission, thus responding to Pope Francis’s wish that the “Church rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father’s mercy.”

This first week will also be a time of cultural exploration and meeting with Polish Christian families and fellow youth from around the world, exchanging with them ideas about how to live the faith.

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