Marcelo dubs World Youth Day “greatest event of democracy”
Portugal’s president said today that the challenge facing Portugal, once World Youth Day (WYD) ends, is to find out what the impact of the event was, and how to capitalise on it.
“The challenge for the Portuguese is to understand what worked well, what was the impact and how to take advantage of it – not only in terms of inspiration, animation, mobilisation, but also in concrete acts,” he said on arrival at the Edward VII Park for another round in the religious celebrations.
“Let’s see if that happens”.
As Marcelo walked through the park and was approached by young Portuguese and foreigners who offered him gifts, he stressed WYD is, in its own way, the greatest event of democracy.
“I have no experience before democracy”, he admitted, “but I don’t see a million free young people in a dictatorship, either”.
In his opinion, WYD has really exceeded expectations so far.
“It has been a crescendo and the important thing, in fact, is the presence of youth from all over the world who, here, are mixed all together, unlike WYD in Panama where young people were organised by countries.”
Marcelo revealed that he has been “walking the streets of Lisbon at night” and the buzz “has been amazing”.
Asked about Pope Francis’ constant messages, the president said the head of the Roman Catholic Church has the “ability to touch people”.
According to Marcelo, the Pope “is very concerned about social justice, inequalities, war and the problem of proximity to people.
“Just this morning, he visited a social institution and made a strong appeal to this, that is, there are no people in the abstract, but concrete people with complicated problems that need to be listened to”.
Regarding the Mass for World Youth Day, which takes place on Sunday, in Parque Tejo, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said that the “big question is how the crowd will move to Parque Tejo”, from the Eduardo VII venue.
“I’m not worried, I’m curious to see, because I was there (at park Tejo), but with everything empty.”
The president explained that the Edward VII park, where the main ceremonies have taken place so far, is close to the centre of Lisbon and therefore easy to get to – unlike Parque Tejo.
The Pope has been in Portugal since Wednesday presiding over WYD, where hundreds of thousands of youngsters have converged.
In Lisbon, the main events of the day are taking place in the Edward VII Park, in the Belém area and in the Parque Tejo (Tejo Park), an enclosure of about 100 hectares north of Parque das Nações on land within the municipalities of Lisbon and Loures.