Among the one and a half million Catholic youth gathered in Lisbon for the World Youth Day, the presence of people of other faiths did not go unnoticed. On the street, our JPII Leader Venerable Ashin Mandalarlankara (Cohort XV, Myanmar) was stopped by young people asking him which community he belonged to.
The Lisbon-based International Dialogue Centre KAICIID brought together a group of members from various religious communities and geographical backgrounds to offer an interfaith presence during World Youth Day through a number of events open to the young people crowding the Portuguese streets. Among them two of our JPII Leaders.
On Tuesday, August 1, a panel on youth and interreligious dialogue was held at the Belem Cultural Centre, opposite the City of Joy. Among the speakers the Senior Program Manager of the JPII Center, Elena Dini, and JPII Leader Ashin Mandalarlankara who addressed a group of more than 100 young people interested in dialogue and shared their experience.
On Thursday and Friday, August 3-4, JPII Leaders with other interfaith leaders facilitated the DIALOGO board game with groups of young people who came and enjoyed the chance of delving into dialogue issues in a fun way.
The highlight was for sure the private meeting with Pope Francis who arrived in Lisbon to join the million and a half young Catholics gathered there and took the time for some meetings before then. JPII Leader Mandalarlankara was in the small group of interreligious leaders facilitated by KAICIID who met Pope Francis.
Looking at the young people gathered in Lisbon, monk Ashin Mandarlarlankara comments: “The Buddhist youth in my country have no leader and no vision. And our young Catholics could not attend because of difficulties in obtaining visas due to the political crisis in Myanmar”. These days were a great opportunity for him: besides the private meeting with the Holy Father on Friday, “walking the streets dressed as a monk but with the WYD badge- he concludes – made the young people feel that I was one of them and yet I was different. And this was a great opportunity, for me and for them”.