During a French press conference in Sydney Record reporters Sylvia and Anthony managed to steal a few words from the Archbishop of Paris.
Speaking through a very youthful interpreter, President of the French Bishops’ Conference and Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, gave hope to the Church in Australia at a press conference on July 14.
The Cardinal spoke of the effect World Youth Day had on France in 1997.
“The population discovered that they were convinced by their faith and that there were many more devoted Christians than they originally thought,” he said.
But the greatest change came from youth, who drastically altered the way they viewed the Church.
“They discovered that the faith was not only for elderly people and that it can be shown in an intense way,” Cardinal Vingt-Trois said. Asked whether he noticed an increase in the number of French Catholics post-WYD, Cardinal Vingt-Trois said that while church attendance is not surveyed in France, many young adult professionals came to him after the big event praising WYD for imparting strength in faith.
“Many told me it was a standout event in their lives and that their lives had been changed because of it,” he said.
There are currently 4800 French pilgrims in Australia celebrating WYD in Sydney.
And while WYD 2008 will soon be over, many are now looking to the future, and if it is anything like WYD 1997 in Paris, the youth of the world will be still talking about it years later, assures the French Cardinal.
“WYD does not just end when all the pilgrims vacate the host country, it is a slow burning fire that continues to make its mark for years to come,” he said.