On Friday night, ZENIT interviewed Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, before he boarded the plane returning to Brazil. Archbishop Tempesta commented on his meeting with Pope Francis and he invited ZENIT’s young readers to take part in the Rio event, which will make it possible for them to be with the Holy Father, to encounter Christ and be transformed into missionaries of the Gospel.
ZENIT: Your Excellency, what was the reason for your trip?
Archbishop Tempesta: We came to decide on the final details of the preparations for the [World Youth] Day. Yesterday we met with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to agree on certain things which still remain to be decided. Then we had anaudience with the Holy Father to talk about the Day.
ZENIT: We would like to know how the meeting went with His Holiness Francis. I know that you all speak in Portuguese and the Pope in Spanish.
Archbishop Tempesta: It went very well. We met with the Holy Father together with Father Roque, Father Paolo, Father Antonio Augusto, and Monsignor Joao, in addition to Father Francis.
ZENIT: How did it unfold?
Archbishop Tempesta: We gave him a backpack. The Pope was the first pilgrim to receive the WYD backpack. This will encourage all young people to register, to get a backpack. Of course it’s not complete yet; some things are missing, such as the guides for the celebrations. We also gave him shirts and other objects that go in the backpack, as well as a CD with the different music for the Mass and the Day’s events, and an image of Christ the Redeemer, a religious symbol that identifies our city and the whole country. In addition, we gave him letters, thank you notes and the diocese’s newspaper.
ZENIT: What did you talk about during the meeting?
Archbishop Tempesta: We spoke more than half an hour very calmly about the Day, about the path the Church is following in the country, about the evangelizing mission and about the message of Aparecida. He remembered Aparecida well and its importance. And he reminded us that, in the first place, we are here to serve the Church, and that we must welcome all young people so that they find Christ with the Holy Father and are sent on mission.
ZENIT: Did he indicate other objectives in addition to the apostolate with young people?
Archbishop Tempesta: In addition to the main meeting with young people, he wishes to meet with those who are estranged and poor, with those who suffer from drug addiction and the people of the favelas. He will also meet with the bishops of CELAM, and with the bishops of Brazil. He has expressed great joy at being able to have these meetings.
ZENIT: How is this pre-Day period being lived among young people?
Archbishop Tempesta: With emotion, they will arrive from all places of Brazil and of the world, and of course also from here, from Europe. Fifty-five languages will be spoken, and so many young people are planning to attend. Those who can’t go will follow the event with today’s means. They must become missionaries of youth for the whole world.
ZENIT: What more can you tell us?
Archbishop Tempesta: I wish to invite all young people who read ZENIT to come to this experience in Rio de Janeiro, to be with the Holy Father and to encounter Christ. They must live this moment intensely as pilgrims, as men of God. They will have to face the difficulties of the trip, of resources. This meeting must be the manifestation of one who believes in Christ, who believes that the world can be better, at a moment of so much confusion and violence. Because the world can be better when young people have values in their hearts, and the Day will attempt to place these in the hearts of young people: the Light of the Gospel, peace and fraternity!
ZENIT: We are grateful for the interview and we commend ourselves to your prayers.
Archbishop Tempesta: I congratulate you for the work you do in ZENIT. It’s wonderful to be able to do so in so many languages and I give you all a blessing.