Seoul selected as host of 2027 World Youth Day

Seoul was chosen on Sunday as the host of a global Catholic Church event for young people in 2027.

Pope Francis announced the South Korean capital as the host of the 2027 World Youth Day during the closing Mass for this year’s event in Lisbon on Sunday.

Seoul archdiocese estimates between 700,000 and 1 million pilgrims, including about 300,000 from overseas, will attend the 2027 World Youth Day.

World Youth Day brings together young Catholics from around the world in celebration of their faith. The first World Youth Day was held in 1985. Since 2002, World Youth Day has been held every three years, but after 2011, the subsequent event was held one year earlier than scheduled, in 2013, in Rio de Janeiro, to avoid conflict with the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The 2022 event was postponed until this year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.The last Asian host of World Youth Day was Manila, capital of the Philippines, in 1995. The closing Mass in 1995 established a world record for the largest gathering of people in a religious event with over 5 million people.

World Youth Day runs for five or six days, with the reigning pope also in attendance. Two popes have visited South Korea so far: Pope John Paul II in 1984 and 1989 and Pope Francis in 2014.

Seoul archdiocese plans to use the 2027 World Youth Day to provide comfort and reconciliation for the stressed-out young people of South Korea, while also offering them a new value of life.

From South Korea, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung and Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taick of the Seoul archdiocese traveled to Lisbon last Monday to make a pitch for the South Korean capital, with over 1,000 pilgrims from the country attending the Lisbon event.

In a statement released by the Seoul archdiocese, Chung thanked Pope Francis for selecting Seoul as the World Youth Day host.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to meet with young people from around the world in Seoul,” Chung said. “World Youth Day isn’t just for the Catholic Church. It brings together everyone with good will. We will work closely with the government and local authorities to organize an event that benefits the whole of humanity.”

In the same statement, Yeom said, “I hope we will have a festival of love and joy where young people come together and pray for peace on Earth without war.”

Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy of the Holy See, and Oh Hyun-joo, South Korean ambassador to the Holy See, also assisted with Seoul’s bid.

In offering her congratulations, Oh said, “I hope this will be an opportunity to promote the excellence of Korea and the Korean Catholic Church. I will try to get the government behind all the efforts to ensure a successful hosting of the event.”

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin met with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, to ask for the Vatican’s support for South Korea.

World Youth Day is expected to provide a boost to the local economy. The consulting firm PwC Portugal estimated the economic impact of this year’s World Youth Day at 564 million euros ($622 million) in gross value added.

National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo noted Seoul’s selection as a “cause for celebration not just for the Korean Catholic Church, but for the entire nation.”

“This is an important event for the Catholic Church where young people from all over the world gather to share their faith and culture, and to establish their roles in addressing climate change, poverty and world peace,” Kim said. “Serious discussions among young people on pressing issues, such as war and the climate crisis, will serve as proof that we are moving toward a better future.”

Kim noted that Pope Francis has expressed interest in visiting North Korea and added, “I hope that steps toward peace taken by Pope Francis and young people in this divided country will become a great journey that ushers in a spring of peace on the Korean Peninsula.” (Yonhap)

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