VATICAN CITY, AUG 17, 2000 (VIS) - Wednesday at midday, Fr. Ciro Benedettini
C.P., vice-director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration:
"There is great satisfaction within the Vatican for the favorable start to the 15th World Youth Day,
officially opened yesterday, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin, with the welcome ceremonies
for young people at St. John Lateran and St. Peter's Square.
"In particular, the Holy Father has expressed his profound joy for the festive atmosphere and the
enthusiasm with which the more than 700,000 young people, present since yesterday, have lived the
start of their Jubilee; welcoming with the freshness and spontaneity of their years his invitation to
deepen their friendship with Christ and bear witness to their faith.
"Since 7 a.m. today, the young people have started to pass through the Holy Door at the rate of more
than 20,000 an hour. The processions gather on the Lungotevere and, amid songs and prayers, slowly
wind their way towards St. Peter's Square."