False Alarm: Dioceses in Angola, Cape Verde Dismiss Reports of Missing WYD Pilgrims

An Angolan pilgrim at WYD in Portugal. Credit: Angola Viture Parish

Catholic Dioceses in Angola and Cape Verde have discredited media reports indicating that 106 pilgrims participating in the 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal are missing from the respective delegations, terming the reports “exaggerated.”

In an interview with Radio Ecclesia, Bishop Belmiro Cuica Chissengueti of Cabinda Diocese has, however, disclosed that the whereabouts of six of the pilgrims from Angola are unknown.

“We would like to inform our esteemed listeners and also the public that the information indicating that 106 young people from Angola and Cape Verde disappeared from the World Youth Day is flawed by its inaccuracy,” Bishop Chissengueti said in the August 1 interview.

He said that the Diocese had received reports that two young women from Angola had left their delegation in Braga (a city 479 kilometers from Lisbon).

Another four young people from the Central African country had also been reported missing from their group that was in Leiria (about 148 kilometers from Lisbon).”


The four, the Bishop said, had not shown up for the Diocesan days that had been organized by their group.

The 54-year-old Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Cabinda Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in September 2018 contested media reports about the alleged 106 missing pilgrims, saying, “I don't know where the other 100 came from, I don't even know where they are because I can't speak on behalf of the Cape Verde delegation.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, August 1, the Catholic Diocese of Mindelo in Cape Verde decried the reports about alleged disappearance of the supposed 106 pilgrims, saying that peddling such information was likely to cause confusion.

“The news that has been broadcast in some media about WYD pilgrims from Cape Verde and Angola, allegedly missing, seems to us an exaggerated communication that sows confusion and unnecessary alarm,” read the statement from the Diocese in part.

“The WYD is still in progress, although there were previous phases and moments, such as the Diocesan Days in Leiria and Lamego for the young people of Cape Verde, and the fact that some pilgrims did not show up in these places is not sufficient reason to speak of disappearance,” the statement indicated.

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Cape Verde sent 150 people for the pilgrimage in Lisbon. The group is composed of pilgrims from the parishes of Sal, Boa Vista, São Vicente, Santo Antão and São Nicolau.

Seminarians from the Diocese of Mindelo studying in Seville, Recife and Lisbon, the Neo-Catechumenal Movement and the Salesian School are also part of the group.

The Diocese of Mindelo has clarified that not all these groups have the same programme of accommodation and activities during their stay in Portugal, adding, “115, of those who depend directly on the Organising Committee of the Diocese for WYD, have been staying in Póvoa de Santa Iria since yesterday afternoon.”

“We have to inform you that, in fact, 6 of our people have not been with the group nor have they participated in the activities so far,” the Diocese says.

The leadership of Mindelo Diocese further says the WYD is going “marvelously well for our pilgrims.”


“The Diocesan Days in Leiria and Lamego far exceeded the expectations of our young people,” they say, and add, “It has been a great Feast of Faith and an extraordinary and exciting experience of universal brotherhood.”

“The rest of the days are promising!” the Diocese says.

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