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Pope Francis heads for Panama today to celebrate World Youth Day, the global Catholic youth festival launched by St. Pope John Paul II in 1986. Given his experience working with young people in his native Poland, John Paul had a sort of “Field of Dreams” intuition that if you build it, they will come … and come they have, in the millions, every two or three years for more than three decades now.
Assuming the past is prologue, there will actually be two highly distinct World Youth Days in Panama: The event as recounted in media coverage, and the same event as experienced by the people actually taking part. That’s been the case with basically every edition of WYD - for that matter, with most papal trips of any sort - and there’s no reason to think this one will be any different.
Trip - Couple - Themes - Scandal - Politics
Reporting about the trip will likely be dominated by a couple of unavoidable themes, involving both scandal and politics.
Francis is heading to Central America against the backdrop of unrelenting clerical sexual abuse scandals, most recently involving an Argentine bishop brought to Rome by the pontiff facing abuse allegations back home. A recent report by the Associated Press suggests the Vatican was aware of those charges, despite earlier denials.
Panama - Outing - Month - Feb - Summit
The Panama outing also comes just one month before a Feb. 21-24 summit for presidents of all the bishops’ conferences of the world called by Francis to discuss the abuse scandals. Especially given that this is a gathering of youth, the legacy of failure to adequately protect young people from abuse is necessarily part of the subtext.
Francis is also traveling to a Central American nation where immigration is a live political issue, in terms both of Panama’s role as a transit point for migrants seeking to reach the United States and also...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Crux
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