The next World Youth Day (WYD) will be held in South Korea, home to one of the fastest-growing Catholic churches in the world.
Slated in 2027, the WYD will be the first in Asia after 32 years. The last one was held in Manila in 1995.
The announcement was made Sunday by Pope Francis after presiding over the closing Mass of this year’s WYD at Parque Tejo in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
The Archdiocese of Seoul has repeatedly announced its intention to host the WYD.
Its archbishop, Peter Chung Soon-taick, previously said “it would be an extraordinary opportunity to relaunch (the) youth ministry in a country struggling with the demographic winter.”
“We are presenting our candidacy to be the diocese that will host the world gathering of young people,” Archbishop Chung said in a report on AsiaNews in October 2022.
The church official was hoping that the WYD will again be held in Asia, especially in Korea, “for what it could represent in the moment that its Church is experiencing.”
“In Korea, we are facing a great challenge because the total number of young people is greatly reducing,” said Archbishop Chung.
“Compared to twenty years ago, young people have decreased by a quarter,” he added. “The birth rate of our country is the lowest in the world.”
WYD, begun in 1984 by St. Pope John Paul II, is a huge gathering where young Catholics and young adults celebrate their faith.
It is held every two to three years with a large international gathering, and on off years, there is a smaller celebration in Rome.
Pope Francis also visited South Korea in 2014 and participated in the Asian Youth Day (AYD) in Daejeon.
While in Seoul, he led a prayer for peace and reconciliation for a divided Korean peninsula.
This article was first published by CBCP News