Just 40 days before World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, Pope Francis said he is ready to go and poor health will not keep him away.
Francis is continuing to recover from an abdominal surgery he underwent on June 7. He was released from the hospital last Friday and has jumped back into taking private meetings, though his Wednesday, June 21, public audience was canceled.
In a video recorded by Bishop Américo Aguiar, auxiliary of Lisbon and the coordinator of World Youth Day 2023, Pope Francis held up a gray, WYD-branded backpack and said, “I’m ready! I already have everything and I can’t wait to go!”
“Some people think that I can’t go because of illness, but the doctor told me I can, so I will be with you,” he said in the June 22 video addressed to young people.
The 86-year-old Pope Francis will visit Portugal from Aug. 2–6. Several World Youth Day events are on his agenda, including hearing confessions, praying the Stations of the Cross, attending a praying vigil, and celebrating Mass on Sunday, Aug. 6, the final day of the weeklong gathering.
In his latest video, Francis reminded teens and young adults preparing to attend the international Catholic event that it is now 40 days away, the same length of time as Lent.
He encouraged them not to listen to people who “reduce life to ideas” and have thus “lost the joy of life and the joy of encounter,” adding to “pray for them.”
The pope also told young people they have “three languages of life” on their side: the language of the head to think clearly, the language of the heart to feel deeply, and the language of the hands to put what they think and feel into action.
“Onward and take courage,” he added. “See you in Lisbon!”
Bishop Aguiar met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 22.
The pope also recorded a video thanking organizers and those involved in creating the infrastructure for World Youth Day.
“I know you are spending hours and hours of work to make all of this possible,” he said. “You do not look like the protagonists of WYD, but it is you who make it possible.”
The theme of WYD 2023, which will take place Aug. 1–6, is “Mary arose and went with haste.”
Lisbon will mark Pope Francis’ fourth time attending the international youth gathering, which was established by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
The event usually attracts hundreds of thousands of youth and is expected to double the Portugal capital’s population of 505,000 people during the first week of August.