The upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Poland for World Youth Day celebrations in Krakow was the subject of a detailed briefing for journalists in the Press Office of the Holy See on Wednesday, conducted by the Press Office’s outgoing Director, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ.
Essentially, the briefing was an in-depth look at the Holy Father’s published schedule for the three-day visit to the native land of his predecessor, Pope Saint John Paul II, who began the World Youth Day tradition in 1986.
One issue that emerged session was that of security, and especially of the “atmosphere” surrounding the event. “All the messages I’ve seen seem sincere and are of tranquility,” said Father Lombardi. “There are no particular concerns in Poland over security,” he added.
Father Lombardi also said that he has not heard of any groups withdrawing due to security concerns. “It seems to me,” he said, regarding the general atmosphere, “to be a climate of great normality and tranquility.”
Pope Francis will depart for WYD from Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Friday 27 July at 2.00pm and will arrive at the John Paul II airport of Balice-Krakow two hours later. After the welcome ceremony he will transfer to the Castle of Wawel, where he will address the civil authorities and diplomatic corps, followed by a courtesy visit to the president of the Republic. The Pope’s first day in Poland will conclude with a meeting with bishops in Krakow Cathedral.
In the early morning of Thursday 28 July he will visit the Convent of the Sisters of the Presentation on the way to the airport, and at 8.30 a.m. he will transfer by helicopter to Czestochowa where, in the monastery of Jasna Gora, he will pray in the chapel of the Black Virgin before celebrating Holy Mass in the Shrine of Czestochowa on the occasion of the 1,050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland. At 12.45 p.m. he will return to Krakow where he will address the young people gathered in Jordan Park.
On Friday 29 July he will transfer by helicopter to Oswiecim. At 9.30am he will visit Auschwitz and at 10.30 the camp of Birkenau. Father Lombardi confirmed yesterday that the visit to Auschwitz will be made in silence and there will not be a text or an address released. Pope Francis will return to Krakow where at 4.30 pm he will meet patients at the university paediatric hospital, and at 6.00pm he will preside at the Via Crucis with young people in Jordan Park.
On Saturday he will visit the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, where he will pass through the Door of Divine Mercy and confess several young people. After, at 10.30am, he will celebrate Holy Mass for Polish priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons and seminarians in the Saint John Paul II Shrine of Krakow. The Pope will lunch with several young people in the archiepiscopal residence and then in the evening will pass through the Holy Door in the Campus Misericordiae with various young people. There, at 7.30pm, he will give the opening address of the prayer vigil.
On Sunday 31 July, Francis will celebrate the Closing Mass for World Youth Day in the Campus Misericordiae, where he is expected to announce the venue for the next World Youth day. At 5.00pm, he will greet the WYD volunteers, organising committee and benefactors in the Tauron Arena in Krakow. He will depart by air at 6.30pm, destined for Rome’s Ciampino airport, where he is expected to arrive at 8.25 pm.