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World Youth Conference in Panama, and Pope Francis Visits Panama (22-27 January 2019)

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Pilgrim Cross tours Panama in build up for WYD


THE PILGRIM Cross, which has circled the world to appear at celebrations of World Youth Day (WYD) is making its way across Panama along with the icon of the Virgin Mary.

It arrived in Panama in May and through the rest of July will be displayed  in different parishes across  Panama City., both symbols of the World Youth Day, will be visiting different points of the city during the rest of Jul as part of the promotion of World Youth Day in January 2019  Entrance to the promotional  events will be open to the public.

World Youth Day, which will run from Jan 22 -27  2019 and will be attended by Pope Francis is expected to attract 375,000 pilgrims to the city said Archbishop Domingo Ulloa on Thursday, July 20.



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Panama promoting 2019 WYD at German fair

Casco Viejo a prime tourist destination
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PANAMA   will be a guest of honor at the fiftieth edition of the international tourism trade fair in Stuttgart (Germany),  January 13 to 21.

It is the country’s first appearance at the event and promotion of the World Youth Day (WYD) to be held in January. 2019will  be a major focus.

Archbishop, José Domingo Ulloa, will highlight in a speech the benefits of the Catholic activity. that is expected to bring together about a million people from around the world.

During the nine days of the fair, the  Tourism Authority, ATP will promote Panama vacation activities and locations including fishing, golf, mountains, islands, beaches, historical sites and hiking, among others.

it is estimated that more than 15,000  people will attend the fair with about 100  travel representations from Argentina, Brazil, China, Spain, the United States, Greece, India, Italy, Kenya, Peru, Poland and Portugal.

The Stuttgart event is one of the most important fairs in Europe focused on selling popular vacation destinations and known as a point of reference for promoting leisure and adventure tourism.



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Packages to Panama WYD from $95-$230

Pope Francis at the last WYD in Poland
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“Packages” for pilgrims to  World Youth Day (WYD)  to be held in Panama in January 2019  and attended by Pope Francis will range from $95 to $230  committee and will be sold online.

The announcement came from the organizing committee at a Monday, Jan. 29 press conference.

Nine packages, for accommodation and food, include the “pilgrim kit”, transportation and medical insurance.

The price varies, depending on the number of tickets to the different events that will take place between Monday, Jan.  21 and Sunday, Jan. 27. the peak activity will be held on the last day with a  vigil and a field Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

The committee said that the registration period has not yet been opened.The closing of electronic registrations will be on January 17, 2019.  “The formal beginning will be when the Holy Father registers as the first pilgrim to participate in the WYD, ” said Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa.

Eydín Solanilla, director of Registration and Reception of WYD 2019, said that payments can be by credit card or bank transfer, until November 30, 2018. Those who pay before July 31, will get a 10% discount.

Ulloa stated that a “solidarity fund” will be established, which will be fed by the pilgrims.

“When they sign up, they will contribute $12 more to allow other young people to have the same experience.”

Víctor Chang, executive secretary of the organizing committee, said that over  50,000  host families have already been registered, but the goal is 250,000. “What the pilgrims are looking for is a space to sleep, to take a shower and leave their backpacks”, Chang said.

“Experience shows that host families are not enough. You have to adapt spaces in gyms, camps, salons … with good baths or showers, “he added.

The city is anticipating an influx of 400,000 pilgrims. Metro Line 2 is expected to be open in November this year.



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I've seen projected attendance figures ranging between 300,000 and 4 million visitors.  Even 300,000 will pose huge issues for Panama.  

Is this really a good idea? This event, especially if attendance is high, is going to paralyze Panama City for a week. That is going to have a negative impact on the economy of Panama as people simply won't be able to get around the city.  And it's not like these visitors will be bringing a bunch of tourist dollars with them.  Backpack pilgrims are on a tight budget. Panama is going to spend a lot of money on security, and undoubtedly there will be an additional burden on the health care system during that period. I'm not sure, but it also looks to me like these events may overlap somewhat with Boquete's Flower and Coffee festival and it might hurt attendance here due to logistical problems, if nothing else.

I don't have any objection to the event itself,  of course. And I don't want to come across as a nattering nabob of negativism (thank you, Spiro Agnew), but it seems to me that Panama is going to spend and lose a significant amount of money hosting this event in exchange for some news stories mentioning the location. Am I wrong?

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Pope Francis opens registration for WYD Panama

Pope Francis clicks in on WYD register
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Pope Francis became the first person to register for the 2019 World Youth Day (WYD)  in Panama  with the words: “That’s it, I’ve registered as a pilgrim on the journey to WYD Panama.”

He made the announcement in Rome, on Sunday, February 11, before hundreds of faithful who gathered in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square to attend the Angelus prayer. The Panama event will be from January 22 to 27, 2019.

The pontiff was accompanied by two young people representing the pilgrims and volunteers who will arrive in Panama.

“I invite all the young people of the world to join with faith and enthusiasm this event of grace and fraternity, whether traveling to Panama or participating in their local communities, ” he said.

The event is expected to  draw some 400,000 to Panama, which will delight tourism authorities but has raised  concerns with some over how a city of around 880,000 people with traffic-clogged streets and an overloaded transportation system,  will cope with a five-day  influx of almost half its population, Metro Line 2 will be only partially opened and the 2019 election campaign will be at full pitch.

WYD is a religious and cultural event that gathers young people from all over the world every three years.

It is a festive gathering in which hundreds of thousands of young Catholics congregate in the city chosen by the pontiff to host the WYD that will be filled with pilgrims and volunteers.

Past roll calls
To date, there have been  13 World Youth Days. in 1987 in Buenos Aires (Argentina), 1989 Santiago de Compostela (Spain),1991  Czestochowa (Poland), 1993 Denver (United States),  1995  Manila (Philippines), 1997  Paris (France), 2000 Rome (Italy), 2002 Toronto (Canada), 2005 Cologne (Germany), 2008  Sydney (Australia), 2011 Madrid (Spain), 2013 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 2016 Krakow (Poland).

Young people who participate in WYDs are usually aged between 15 andm30. Most of them tend to be university students.

The record WYD  attendance was in Manila with 5 million young people, according to estimates by local authorities.

The most multitudinous European WYD was in Rome in the year 2000, with 2,100,000  young people.



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Pope knocks “likes” in Panama WYD message

Pope Francis at the last WYD in Poland
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WITH  less than a year to the World Youth Day  (WYD) to be celebrated in Panama,  over  42,000 people have registered since the lists were opened last week.

On Thursday. Feb. 22 Pope Francis sent a message to the young people of the world who are thinking of participating in the religious and cultural event and gave a homily on social media.

“As WYD in Panama approaches, I invite those who want to be part of this great adventure to prepare with joy and the enthusiasm, “he said.

“WYD is for the brave, not for young people who only seek comfort and who recoil from difficulties. Do you accept the challenge? “He added.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio recalled that the XXXIII World Youth Day, will have a place at the diocesan level in Rome on February  25, when the Catholic Church celebrates Palm Sunday ” another step in the process of preparation for WYD  International of Panama in 2019. ” But he took time out to identify problems facing today’s youth, such as the “Terror and uncertainty” or the fear of not being accepted in the group.

“Today, many young people feel compelled to be different from what they really are and try to adapt to often artificial and unattainable standards, “he said.

Many spend their time ” with continuous photographic retouching” of their image “hiding behind masks and false identities until they almost become fake themselves.

he raised the alarm about the “obsessive” tendency to receive likes,

“Many are obsessed with receiving as many” likes “as possible. And this sense of inadequacy produces fears and uncertainties, “he said in his message.

The Pope asked young people not to lock themselves in and raise “a barricade” to defend themselves against everything and everyone but to go out and talk and dialogue with others.

The pontiff said that many young people today feel “disturbed and seized by so many fears”, but pointed out above all one that surpassed all the others: “there is a deep fear of not to be loved of not being accepted for what you are. ”

“Do not leave, the radiance of youth in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to see the world is the computer and the smartphone, “he added.

He urged them to have “courage” and to use “their strengths and energies to improve the world, starting with the closest reality. ” The key -according to the Pope’s recipe- is “to love the people with whom we share daily life. And we can also love those who  are not so beautiful.”



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World’s most powerful  man Panama bound

Pope Francis at the last WYD in Poland
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By Jonathan Power

THE  PRESENT POPE- Francis- is probably the most powerful man in the world, in the round [and is soon coming to Panama].

Stalin once asked when confronted with the argument about the Pope’s reach and influence, replied, “How many divisions has the Pope got?” He missed the point. The Pope does not work these days in the world of hard power. He is a peddler of soft power.

Francis has much more power, maybe because of the strength of his convictions than any of his predecessors, with the exception of the Polish pope, John Paul 11, who played a front-line role in triggering the events that brought down communism.

John Paul 11 set his sights high. How could this youngish pope have such an impact? It was drive, personality and an intuitive knowledge of how power worked. He was also enormously charismatic and could summon up a crowd of half a million people with the click of his fingers- or so it sometimes seemed.

Francis uses his power and crowd-pulling charisma for a different cause- to help the poor, the dispossessed and the suffering. Traditionally, popes have stressed the value of the Church’s edicts on divorce, birth control and the confession of sins. At one time, not very long ago, it concentrated on propagating belief in far-out concepts like infallibility, angels, limbo, and purgatory. Maybe Francis believes some of this but it isn’t what he likes to talk about, as his predecessors did.

When he was the new Archbishop of Buenos Aires he still rejected liberation theology with its strong socialist content that embraces the so-called “preferential option for the poor”. He came to change his mind. The poor and this philosophy are now the centerpieces of his work.

But did that make him a through and through good man? I don’t think so.

I came to this conclusion after a long and thorough study of his earlier life as the superior of the Argentinian Jesuits, a bishop and finally a cardinal. In that period he shunned for most of the time being outspoken about the appalling abuses of the military government, despite many Catholics being tortured or having their small children confiscated. What he did do was to help on the quiet- sheltering people on the run and intervening with the authorities about particular prisoners. In this sense, he was the opposite of his counterpart in Brazil which was also under the thumb of a military regime. Cardinal Paulo Arns took the government head-on publically and as a result was very much a major contributing influence in ending the regime and turning Brazil towards democracy. My long article on Francis was published two years ago by the World Policy Journal. The editor of this influential foreign policy magazine aptly headlined my article, “When the Pope turned his back”.

The full story has not been told elsewhere. In a new book, “Absolute Power”, published this month, the space given to it is fairly brief. The author, Paul Collins, does the same as the three major authors who published before him- playing down this aspect of Francis’s life.

In other ways it is an outstanding book, going right back to the popes of the Enlightenment and giving living portraits of the popes of the last century. To understand how the church has changed and evolved over the last 300 years and produced a pope like Francis this book is extremely useful.

There are some important things the present pope misses out on in his many contributions to foreign affairs, and the book gives the reader the depth that one needs to have in order to understand this.  For example, take the life of Benedict XV who was pope during the First World War.

Benedict was a near pacifist, which surely Jesus Christ was. Benedict was probably the only pope who never mentioned the value of the just-war theory of Saints Augustine and Thomas, which Catholic politicians like to quote when they are involved in deploying almighty force. “Benedict opposed war in any form and rejected the theory of just war as historically outmoded”.

If only modern-day popes could see war like this, given their immense charisma, they might well have had a real influence on stalling the wars in Vietnam, Central America, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Today Francis often speaks about contemporary foreign affairs. But as he shouts from the rooftops about aiding the poor so must he more loudly lead Catholics against war. He did take on President Donald Trump during the election for unchristian behavior, but obviously, his attacks were not often enough or deep enough to persuade many Catholics not to vote for him.

If he could be more outspoken, not less, then, despite the inadequacies in part of his earlier life, he could become to be seen, perhaps, as one of the greatest of all popes.

Pope Francis will be in Panama January 22-27  next year for World Youth Day (WYD).



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81,000 accommodations  for Panama World Youth Day

Archbishop Ulloa.
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With earlier projections of up to 400,000 pilgrims for World Youth Day coming to Panama in January 2019  over 81,000  host accommodations have been registered so far.

Representatives from over 80 countries meeting to  review  logistics were told by  the Archbishop of Panama, José Domingo Ulloa on Thursday, June 7: “We  are working to provide the best conditions to the thousands of young people who will make the pilgrimage to Panama,”

Eydin Solanilla, director of Registration and Reception of the WYD, said in addition to the 81,000 host spaces It is estimated that, for the activity in the isthmus, there will be more than 150 reception centers for pilgrims (national and international).

On the accommodation spaces, Ulloa acknowledged that “in many homes, we have found many prejudices”.

He said  that young people participating in the 5-day event, attended by Pope Francis, go through a due process, so “you have to break down those fears.”



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Medical teams train for inflow  of WYD  pilgrims

Chemical weapons response team
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WITH Just 7 months to World Youth Day (WYD) IN Panama the Ministry of Health (MINSA) is training emergency personnel to resolve difficult situations that arise in the month of January 2019, when scores of thousands of pilgrims will arrive on Panamanian soil potentially putting a strain on Panama’ already strained and underfunded health services.

Health clinics will have staff on standby during weekends and evenings

Around 16 officials, including doctors, paramedics and nurses from the 15 regions of the country, held drills this weekend related to emergency care as part of the first course of instructors developed by the Ministry.

A press release says that the initiative aims to “prepare the staff to achieve greater coverage in provinces such as Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro, Darién and Colon, extreme points where pilgrims are expected to arrive. ”

From recognition of the use of weapons, to their treatment, initial ation in unforeseen situations and the management of risk, among other skills; were the focus in the  Ministry workshop.



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