My Catholic friends, here is a question that has been tormenting me since I first heard about the enormous efforts done by the parish in Entumbane to raise enough funds to send their only representative to Madrid for the World Youth Day this month. Is this spiritual event, in the end, an event for the rich and rich only?
Many aspiring pilgrims will be deprived of the opportunity to go. A young parishioner of the Christ the King parish in Hillside explained the situation to me. The price has risen dramatically from ca. 1,000 USD by almost 100 % in the last couple of months. Most probably this happened because the Spanish embassy has abandoned its original plan to subsidize young Catholics from Zimbabwe after a number of parishes in Harare received support from local businesses to cover the cost of trip and stay in Madrid for the period of the WYD. It remains unclear why the embassy of the host nation decided that a couple parishes in Harare represent the whole of the country.
Events like WYD are a very important opportunity for the youth to forge long-lasting connections with their peers in other countries. This is why a better mechanism to enable the participation of young people from developing countries has to be found out, otherwise WYD will remain an elite event with many young people impoverishing themselves and their families to make it there, and the issue of raising money will be downgrading the spiritual aspect of the once-in-a lifetime celebration of Christ. Whose responsibility is this in Zimbabwe: the Church, the youth and their families, socially-responsible business people? We have less than three years till the next WYD to figure it out.