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Poland, U.S. working to ensure safety of July World Youth Day pilgrims

WYD security

Blonia Park is seen in an undated photo from the Kosciuszko Mound in Krakow, Poland. The park will be one of the major gathering spots for World Youth Day pilgrims during the July 26-31 festival, and security officials in Poland are working to ensure participants are safe throughout the event. (CNS photo/courtesy WYD)

 

By Dennis Sadowski

Catholic News Service

 

            WASHINGTON (CNS) - World Youth Day organizers in the United States and Poland remain in touch with diplomatic and security officials in their respective countries to ensure that pilgrims will remain safe during the festival of faith in late July.

            Security is expected to be extremely tight in Krakow, Poland, the WYD host city, as authorities in both countries work to prevent any incident that would threaten visitors, said Paul Jarzembowski, World Youth Day USA coordinator and assistant director of youth and young adult ministries for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

            He told Catholic News Service current information indicates no threat to the celebration, scheduled for July 26-31.

            "The pilgrims' families can be assured that we're in regular communication with the State Department, the organizers in Krakow and the Polish Embassy in the United States," Jarzembowski said.

            "Pilgrims can rest assured if they are vigilant and aware and up to date on the security situation, that the U.S. and, most especially Poland, are doing everything they can to assure their safety," he added.

            About 2 million people, including 30,000 Americans, are expected for the 14th international gathering of young people to celebrate their Catholic faith.

            The USCCB will conduct a webinar on safety and security at 2 p.m. April 14. Information is available at bit.ly/1UrnhZE.

            Jarzembowski's office has devoted a section of its World Youth Day USA website to safety and security. It details how the USCCB is partnering with other organizations to address security concerns and offers tips on preparing for the trip, including routine measures that travelers can take ahead of any international journey.

            Updates are also available on Facebook and on Twitter at @WYDUSA.

            As the host country, Poland is taking the lead on security arrangements, and local law enforcement authorities have joined with the Polish military in planning for the influx of visitors for months, Jarzembowski said.

            "We don't want to let fear dictate what we do with World Youth Day," he said.

            He cited the calls for prayers for peace from St. John Paul II at previous World Youth Day events in the 1980s and 1990s when attacks by extremists posed similar concerns.

            "We continue to meet and we continue to pray for peace and we continue to be bold by stepping out and doing that," Jarzembowski said.

           

             Information about World Youth Day USA preparations is available online at usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/index.cfm.

           

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