VATICAN - World Youth Day 2011 will bring Europe a message of hope, not controversy, says a Vatican spokesman today July 23.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi commented on the next World Youth Day, to be hosted by Madrid in three years. Benedict XVI announced the venue for the event when he closed World Youth Day '08 in Sydney last Sunday.

Father Lombardi acknowledged on Vatican Radio that "[Europe] is a continent where the confrontation between faith and the problems of modern society, of secularization is always alive."

He added: "The Pope often speaks of the risk that Europe might lose its fundamental values, linked to Christian tradition and to the faith's contribution to the continent's development.

"This will certainly be one of the topics and objectives of the next Youth Day, but without controversies and without the will to oppose the world that surrounds us."

Father Lombardi recalled the Pope's most recent trip to Spain: for the 2006 World Meeting of Families in Valencia.

He said that the Holy Father's message at that event was "entirely positive, centered on the beauty of being Christian, a positive message also for today's family."

"At a time when the family is going through great difficulties, to be Christian is a positive message," Father Lombardi affirmed. "I believe this should also be the spirit of the next Youth Day in Spain: a message of hope, a message that shows how faith offers a beautiful and great contribution for the future of our societies and of the world, as truly happened in Australia."

Father Lombardi mentioned the disappointment expressed by some people that, because of organizational and security problems, it has not been possible to organize a World Youth Day in Africa.

"So we return to Europe," he said, "though the intention is to involve the African continent in every possible way."