By Hannah Brockhaus
The next World Youth Day will be held in Seoul, South Korea, in 2027, Pope Francis announced at the conclusion of the final Mass of World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.
“The next World Youth Day will be in Asia,” the pope said following the Aug. 6 concluding Mass of the 15th international World Youth Day, immediately before reciting the Angelus prayer. The announcement was met by loud cheers and applause.
Catholics from South Korea in attendance at WYD responded with happiness and excitement to the announcement.
Young Ju Kim, 25, from the city of Busan, said it is “surprising” and “an honor” that her country will host the next World Youth Day.
“It is so incredible because Korea is separated into the north and the south, so… it is an important time for our country,” she said.
It is “a great gift for all of us,” Giulianna Peccini, an Italian missionary working in Korea for 25 years, told CNA, adding that World Youth Day in South Korea will bring “a renewal of our faith.”
More than 1,000 Korean Catholics attended WYD 2023 in Lisbon.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass for an estimated 1.5 million participants in Tejo Park in Lisbon, concluding the six-day youth festival and his own five-day trip to Portugal.
The Catholic Church has celebrated World Youth Day (WYD) annually since the event was established by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
WYD is observed in local dioceses, but typically every two to three years there is a weeklong international celebration, typically held in July or August, drawing hundreds of thousands of people.
South Korea has nearly 6 million Catholics, 11% of the total population, according to 2022 statistics from the country’s Catholic bishops’ conference.
A 2020 survey by a Korean research journal, tracking recent religious demographic changes in the country, found that now about 50% of South Koreans are nonreligious, while 32% are Christian, and 16% are Buddhist.
Pope Francis visited South Korea in 2014. During the five-day trip, he beatified 124 Korean martyrs and took part in the sixth Asian Youth Day.