Hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world have descended on Portugal to welcome Pope Francis when he arrives on Wednesday to close a jamboree dubbed "the Catholic Woodstock."
However, the shadow of the Church's sexual abuse scandal will haunt the background as a reminder of how much work it still has to do to put the scandal behind it.
World Youth Day, an event devised by the late Pope John Paul to form young Catholics in their teens or early 20s, is held every two or three years in a different city. This will be the first since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two stages have been set up in different locations where the young will gather for Masses, vigils, and other social and religious gatherings.
The Vatican said about 330,000 young people have registered and many more might attend. Portuguese authorities have said more than one million people were expected.
The 86-year-old Francis, who is making his first trip since intestinal surgery in June and uses a wheelchair and cane, will also meet political leaders and diplomats.
The trip and the youth event take place less than six months after a report by a Portuguese commission that said at least 4,815 minors were sexually abused by clergy - mostly priests - over 70 years.
"Nothing can repair the experience and lives of these more than 4,800 victims," an abuse awareness group called This Is Our Memorial said on its website. "What we can and should do is remember them. Give them a voice. So that what happened never happens again."
Probable meeting with abuse victims
The group has put up big outdoor signs to raise awareness about clergy sexual abuse. A separate protest group has planned a demonstration for Friday at Lisbon's Martim Moniz Square.
Lisbon patriarch Manuel Clemente told a news conference on Monday that the Church was fully committed to addressing the issue.
Francis is expected to meet privately with abuse victims but the Vatican has not confirmed it and if it does take place, it will be announced after the event to ensure privacy.
"This is to facilitate the process of healing, which is always personal, intimate and requires time to listen," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.
The young people will stay in schools, gyms, fire stations, and with families, and many are planning to sleep out in the open on the night before the closing Mass in Lisbon's Parque Tejo.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Monday called it "the biggest international event" Portugal has ever hosted.
On Saturday, Francis will fly by helicopter for a two-hour stop at Fatima, where the Church believes that the Madonna appeared to three poor shepherd children in 1917. About half a million people are expected there.