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 World Youth Day pumps €160 million into Spain

MADRID ( The head of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Arturo Fernandez, estimates that an extra €160 million ($1.782 billion) was ploughed into the Spanish economy during the World Youth Day celebrations that ended on August 21.

Despite widespread complaints in Spain about the amount of money being lavished on the festival out of taxpayers’ pockets during difficult economic times, the chamber noted the delegates from across the border had spent up big on transport, food, lodging, recreation and souvenirs during their time in the country.

Church sources noted that the activities were basically either self-funded by the participants themselves or paid for by private donation, with the major government cost being providing security and police to monitor public safety.

As any country knows, hosting major worldwide events is a big money spinner for any state. The government of New South Wales in Australia sent its then-tourism minister, Sandra Norrie, to Rome to lobby for World Youth Day some years before it was awarded to Sydney.

Norrie said that both her state government and the federal government in Canberra wanted the event, both for the economic benefits and the opportunities it offered Australia in terms of advertising products, way of life, future investment and migration.

Undoubtedly, Spain is no exception. Citing just one example, one civic association in Madrid reported selling three million meal tickets to delegates at a profit of €22.5 million ($248 million).


A lone Chinese flag at World Youth Day Mass

MADRID (Agencies): The final Mass of World Youth Day on August 21 was a sea of national flags, but the one that was hard to spot was a lone Chinese flag in the midst of the million-strong crowd being held aloft by Thomas Zeng.

“This week has been absolutely fascinating,” the young university student, who had travelled all the way from Shanghai to Madrid to be at the World Youth Day celebrations, said.

However, Zeng noted that he had come alone and did not know of any other people from the mainland at the religious festival.

“It is wonderful that I can meet so many Catholic people, more than one million. That could never happen in my country, but I believe with the grace of God that it will one day,” Zeng bubbled.

Zeng told CNA that in his own experience as an ordinary member of the Church it is “not difficult to be a Catholic in China.” But to be “a good Catholic,” he notes, might be a different matter. “If you want to proclaim the faith, you may be in trouble.”

The student in management science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University added, “I think that after today I will be more brave in proclaiming Jesus Christ to my friends, my classmates. I will no longer be so afraid.”

Zeng observed, “People in the Middle East, they have a worse situation than us. So we must be brave. We need not bear with fear, because God is with us and we have a lot of opportunities—especially in Shanghai, as it is a very open, international city.”


Breakthrough in Vatican relations with Vietnam

HUE (UCAN): A working visit to Hue archdiocese in Vietnam by the non-resident Vatican representative next month is expected to break new ground, as the Vatican diplomat is expected to be allowed by the Hanoi government to stay in Church-owned accommodation.

During his scheduled September 3 to 18 visit, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, who is based in Singapore, plans to stay at the archdiocesan pastoral centre, where he will have the opportunity to meet local priests, religious, seminarians and lay people.

Up until now, foreign Church officials have been required to stay in local hotels. Officials hope this concession is a sign of warming ties between the Vatican and the government.

 “Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The, of Hue, auxiliary Bishop Francis Xavier Le Van Hong and 10 local priests discussed detailed plans for Archbishop Girelli’s visit to our archdiocese,” a Church spokesperson said.

During the archbishop’s visit he is scheduled to concelebrate at a special Mass expected to be attended by around 1,000 people and talk about ways of developing the local Church with around 5,000 people at Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral in Hue.

The working visit will also include meetings with government officials from Quang Tri and Thua Thien.


Church official warns of new threats to peace in Bosnia

WARSAW (CNS): Monsignor Ivo Tomasevic, secretary-general of Bosnia’s Sarajevo-based Catholic Bishops’ Conference said, expressed concerned that peace could again be at risk in the war-torn Balkan country because of failure by the international community to ensure “justice and human rights for all.” 

He said the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord had failed to bring lasting and stable peace, and that conditions had worsened for the country’s depleted Catholic minority.

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