Usually, the battle for hosting the succeeding World Youth Days happen under the radar, now it seems that the competition is getting stiffer and harder as news leak out that some countries are already lobbying to host the largest Catholic gathering of youth in the world. It is actually interesting because the event is becoming highly politicized like that of the Olympics wherein countries lobby tremendously in order to bag the committee’s favor. Yet we all know that no matter how the selection process is politically charged, the wisdom of the Pope should not be doubted because the Pope selects the country according to the need and signs of the times as you can very well notice in the trend and pattern of the locations of the previous host countries in light of world history since it began in 1984.
One such zealous contender is Krakow, Poland. The country where Pope John Paul II (who happens to be the initiator of WYD) was born, is gearing up its lobbying power to host the World Youth Day 2015. Krakow, the diocese of the blessed pontiff is ready to host the event coinciding with John Paul II’s tenth year anniversary of his death. If approved, Poland, one of Catholicism’s mightiest stronghold, will host the World Youth day for the second time. Like Spain, Poland is currently experiencing crisis in the Catholic church wherein young people are lukewarm or worst, indifferent to the faith. 20 years ago, Poland held its faith solidly on its bedrock despite numerous political persecutions, but after they tasted freedom, the faith began to dwindle gradually. Prelates in Poland wanted to regain the zeal they lost. The last time Poland held its first ever world youth day was in 1991 in Czestochowa.
The second strongest contender is London. After the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in the UK in 2010, many Anglicans converted to Catholicism led by their own prelates and bishops. It created a firestorm among Anglicans but it also bore fruit since many Anglicans all over the world followed suit in coming back home to the mother church separated centuries ago by England’s King Henry VIII. Another driving force which is motivating the English Catholics in pursuing the hosting opportunity for the event is the spike in religious and priestly vocations after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit. If approved by the Pope, WYD in London will be held in 2016, going back to the three year gap which many young Catholics wanted to avoid (According to a poll which OTWOMD held last year, many young people wants to bring back the traditional 2 year gap instead of the three year gap of wyd).
The third most vocal country is South Korea. South Koreans are experiencing a springtime in the Catholic faith. An average of 150,000 Koreans are being baptized and converted every year. This is the largest conversion of Catholics to date. South Korea’s bid to host the 2015 or 2016 WYD is fueled by the fact that the event happened only once in Asia, and that was 16 years ago in the Philippine Archipelago wherein 4-5 million pilgrims attended the event. In my opinion, it would be unlikely that the Pope will award the hosting of the event in South Korea since the country is still in high tension with the Communist North. Security of the Pilgrims will be an issue.
Other contenders for the World Youth Day is India, Latvia, Honduras, Peru, and African countries like Benin, Angola and Cameroon.
As early as now, my bet goes to Poland. The chance is greater for a country to be awarded the event if the proper ingredients are met: Spiritual Crisis, Coinciding Celebration, Anticipated fruits and benefits to the Church and Political and Historical significance… Poland, by far, has the monopoly of these considerations.