The Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life held a press conference last week to present some “Pastoral Guidelines for the Celebration of World Youth Day in the Particular Churches.”
This follows Pope Francis’ call – on 22nd November 2020, the Solemnity of Christ the King – for a relaunch of the celebration of WYD in dioceses. The Pope announced that the celebration, traditionally held on Palm Sunday will now be held on the Sunday of the Solemnity of Christ the King, starting from 2021.
Tracing a link between these two liturgical celebrations, the document notes that on Palm Sunday, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is that of a “king, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Mt 21:5) and acclaimed as Messiah by the crowd: “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The evangelist Luke even adds the title “King” to the crowd’s acclamation, emphasizing that the Messiah is also King (Lk 19:38).
In this light, the key proclamation that must be addressed to young people, and must be at the centre of every diocesan WYD celebrated on the Solemnity of Christ the King is to “receive Christ! Welcome him as King into your lives! He is a King who came to save! Without him there is no true peace, no true inner reconciliation and no true reconciliation with others! Without his Kingdom, society too loses its human face. Without the Kingdom of Christ, all true fraternity and all genuine proximity to those who suffer will disappear.”
More so, Pope Francis notes that at the heart of the two liturgical celebrations lies “the Mystery of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humankind” and the core message is that the full stature of humankind stems from love that gives itself to others “right to the end”.
The Dicastery thus invites dioceses and eparchies to celebrate the WYD on the Solemnity of Christ the King, placing young people at the centre of pastoral attention, praying for them, engaging them as protagonists to promote communications campaigns, among other things. Dioceses are also to consider the celebrations as part of a “broader pastoral journey of which WYD is only one stage” in line with Pope Francis’ recommendation that “youth ministry has to be synodal; it should involve journeying together.”