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RIO DE JANEIRO 23-28 Jul 2013 Brazil hosts 2013 World Youth Day

Hosted on a mainly Catholic continent, the 2013 World Youth Day can be counted to draw young Catholics to Rio in the millions. The even

July 23, 2012 - NULL

RIO DE JANEIRO 23-28 Jul 2013 Brazil hosts 2013 World Youth Day

Hosted on a mainly Catholic continent, the 2013 World Youth Day can be counted to draw young Catholics to Rio in the millions. The event will test the city at several levels. A war is under way to clean out drug gangs ahead of the WYD and other massive events hosted in the next few years by Brazil, and a pandemic represents another potential threat while the visitors are in town. If the pope has his way, the WYD events could be unusually quiet, but protests outside could

RIO DE JANEIRO 23-28 Jul 2013 Brazil hosts 2013 World Youth Day

Hosted on a mainly Catholic continent, the 2013 World Youth Day can be counted to draw young Catholics to Rio in the millions. The event will test the city at several levels. A war is under way to clean out drug gangs ahead of the WYD and other massive events hosted in the next few years by Brazil, and a pandemic represents another potential threat while the visitors are in town. If the pope has his way, the WYD events could be unusually quiet, but protests outside could mar the silence.

Rio increasingly is in the limelight. It hosts the Rio+20 United Nations Earth Summit anniversary in 2012, WYD and matches of the Confederations Cup football competition in 2013. Then in 2014, it hosts the FIFA World Cup. In 2016 Rio is host to South America's first summer Olympics. All these events will bring vast crowds, and Rio's police are eager to clean up the criminality beforehand. A Deutsche Presse-Agentur report in January noted that such global events do not go well with shootouts by gangs which had in the past turned Rio de Janeiro's favelas (slums) into no-go areas even for the police. The task has been handed to UPPs, an acronym in Portuguese for the Pacifying Police Units, which will settle into the favelas. A city employee quoted in a DPA report on the UPPs explained that the effort is directed at "ending the dictatorship of guns and their terrorizing of residents."

A report in January from Canada highlights the danger of a pandemic for any city hosting a mass event. The visitors spread sometimes serious infections among themselves, then take those diseases to their home countries. Postmedia notes that the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 2001 resulted in 10 deaths linked to a meningitis outbreak. There was also an influenza outbreak during World Youth Day in Australia in 2008. Other diseases lying in wait in large gatherings include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the H1N1 virus. Dr. Kamran Khan in Toronto and an international team are monitoring potential outbreaks using a new surveillance system in order to understand the mode of transmission. The first big test is the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

In January the pope appealed for the sounds of silence. According to an AP report about the communiqué, Benedict marveled during recent trips to Croatia and Madrid for World Youth Day at the ability of tens of thousands of people gathered in fields and piazzas for prayers to go absolutely silent in contemplation. He argued that the quiet makes people better listeners and better communicators by giving them more time to think about what they are hearing and saying.

The Roman Catholic Church describes its international World Youth Day, last held in Madrid in 2011, as the largest gathering of young people on the planet. They are seen as vital to the future of the church at a time when it is struggling to maintain its following. Rio could see as many as 2 million young pilgrims at the event. Protests can't be ruled out because the pope has upset large parts of the world with comments about AIDS and condoms.

The international WYD involves a pilgrimage to a major city in the world and a weeklong program of spiritual activity that integrates catechism, public rituals--including a mass reenactment of the Stations of the Cross--and performing arts. The celebration culminates in a mass led by the pope. International World Youth Days have been held in such cities as Buenos Aires (1987), Manila (1995), Sydney (2008) and Madrid (2011). (WRITTEN Feb 2012)

RELATED READING:

WYD 2013 site
http://wyd.catholicpilgrimoffice.com/

Rio cleans up its act: Police stand up to the drug gangs (M&C 18 Jan 2012)
http://news.monstersandcritics.com/americas/features/article_1686143.php/Rio-cleans-up-its-act-Police-stand-up-to-the-drug-gangs

Canadian researchers develop disease-outbreak surveillance systems (Post Media News 31 Jan 2012) http://www.canada.com/Canadian+researchers+develop+disease+outbreak+surveillance+systems/6080541/story.html

Pope Benedict XVI is asking everyone to quiet down (AP/USA Today 24 Jan 2012)
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-01-24/pope-silence/52764188/1

World Youth Day (Enclclopedia Britannica)
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1101412/World-Youth-Day

World Youth Day opens in Sydney (NYT 16 Jul 2008)
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/16/world/asia/16pope.html?ref=world

Madrid hosts international World Youth Day (World News Forecast 2011)
http://www.newsahead.com/92-wnf/623-MADRID-16-21-Aug-2011-Spanish-city-hosts-international-World-Youth-Day.html

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Date written/update: 2012-07-23