We now know the location for the next World Youth Day: Seoul, South Korea. The announcement was made today at the end of the Missioning Mass, presided over by Pope Francis and concelebrated by thousands of priests.
Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taick of Seoul revealed in an interview that the Asian country is facing a major challenge in relation to the dwindling number of young people in 2022. According to official statistics, the nation has the lowest birth rate in the world, with only 0.8 children per couple. Because of this, the number of young people in churches has also decreased.
So WYD "could become an excellent opportunity to bring young people together around a project that makes them protagonists. It would start a process and, once it is completed, it would be good to share with everyone what we have experienced. It would be a missionary opportunity to share the values of the Gospel in our society," he concluded.
Even so, the number of Catholics in South Korea has increased by 50 per cent in the last twenty years. In that time, the percentage of Catholics in the country has gone from 8.3 per cent to 11.1 per cent, reaching more than 6 million Catholics.
A fact to be noted is the peculiarity of the beginning of the Catholic faith: its establishment and dissemination were developed in Korea on the initiative of the people, simple people, and not by priests or missionaries. The scholars, coming into contact with religious books from the West, understood and accepted Catholicism as a religion, not as a study or literature, realising that the sacraments could only be administered by priests. Thus, the Catholic community began to cross the borders with China to bring priests to Korea, even at the risk of death.
May World Youth Day in Korea be an event of grace and hope for young people in Asia and around the world.
Before announcing the location of the next WYD, Francis also invited young people from all over the world to participate in the Jubilee of Youth, which will take place in Rome in 2025: “I count on your presence in 2025 to celebrate together the Jubilee of Young people".