Hundreds of Mexican pilgrims planning to attend World Youth Day in Panama have been unable to travel because the tour packages they purchased for the event appear not to exist.
Around 400 pilgrims from at least 11 dioceses purchased tour packages from JCP Multimedios.
The packages included airline tickets, accommodation, registration for the event and a pilgrimage kit, according to a Jan. 15 statement signed by Auxiliary Bishop Juan Armando Perez Talamantes of Monterrey, head of the Mexican bishops’ youth ministry.
Some of the pilgrims learned of the apparent fraud after arriving at the Mexico City international airport to take flights to Panama City — and some have remained stranded there, the statement said.
Attempts to reach JCP Multimedios were unsuccessful. Bishop Perez said in his statement that no one answered the phone at the business.
World Youth Day starts Jan. 22. As of Jan. 18, 150,000 young people had registered for the event, but more were expected to register in the final days before the event, said Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office.
A group of 25 pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Edmonton is going to Panama. The pilgrims are from St. Joseph’s Basilica and Holy Rosary Polish parishes in Edmonton, and Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove.