Vatican journo claims 2008 WYD 'winner is Sydney'

One of the most respected foreign journalists at the Vatican has said his sources have told him that the rights to hold the 2008 World Youth Day event have been awarded to Sydney.

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter wrote in his Word from Rome website column on Friday that although Pope Benedict XVI will make the formal announcement in Cologne this month, he has learned that Cardinal George Pell's to secure the event have paid off, and the 2008 WYD will be held in Sydney.

This month's event in Cologne (15-21 August) is expected to draw between 800,000 and one million young people from all corners of the globe.

Allen compares staging World Youth Day to putting on the Olympic Games, but says competition to host World Youth Day is "not quite as fierce as the Olympics", in part because it's an expensive production that requires a staggering amount of work.

"Still, there's no shortage of bishops who would like to see a World Youth Day on their home turf," he suggests, pointing out that Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, for example, took a strong personal interest in this year's event.

Allen's sources said the tentative plan is to hold the event in June 2008, but this date is not finalised. If it happens this way, it would suggest a shift from holding World Youth Days every two years to every three; Cologne comes three years after the last World Youth Day, in Toronto in 2002.

The correspondent says Cardinal Pell pushed hard to host the event, "despite knowing that it doesn't come cheap". German organizers recently estimated the costs for the 2005 production at roughly $A158 million. Even in prosperous Canada, the last World Youth Day in 2002 left behind a debt of $A31.4 million.

Allen comments that while Pell will speak for himself when the announcement is made, "one suspects the basic aim is to break through the fog of apathy and disinterest that often surrounds institutional religion in the West".

"World Youth Day is a jolt to the story that secularised society likes to tell itself, which is that religion is a quiet, private thing with little impact on the broader culture and little appeal for the young.

"Up against powerful social currents that press youth towards secular conceptions of identity and satisfaction, many bishops, including Pell, regard $A158 million as a relatively small price to pay to balance the scales, if only for a week."

John L Allen: World Youth Day in Cologne and then Sydney (National Catholic Reporter 29/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Sydney

Terror threat changes WYD plans for Sydney pilgrims (CathNews 28/7/05)
WYD preparations enter home stretch (CathNews 20/7/05)
World Youth Day cross begins final push for Cologne (CathNews 7/7/05)
Pell leads bid for Sydney World Youth Day (CathNews 5/7/05)
Pope's trip to World Youth Day officially announced (CathNews 22/6/05)
Cardinal urges pope to keep World Youth Day commitment (CathNews 3/3/05)
German organizers further plans for World Youth Day (CathNews 7/1/05)

Benedict XVI: Youths from all over the world, come to Cologne! (AsiaNews.it 30/7/05)
Young pilgrims heeding call (The Border Mail 30/7/05)
"Church of Fear" by renowned German performan (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 28/7/05)
World Youth Day set to 'revive' German Church (The Tablet 30/7/05)
Not All Believed in World Youth Day (Zenit 29/7/05)
Archbishop Francis Carroll: They go with our blessing (Catholic Voice August 2005)
Off to see the Pope (Catholic Voice August 2005)
Lots of Live Cameras for TV plus a special Radio Channel (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 27/7/05)
Slight protestant criticism of lacking ecumenical spirit (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 27/7/05)
No official chinese visitors (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 27/7/05)
"Religion-free zone" declared by activists in Colo (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 28/7/05)
5,364 Media People accredited - 70 travelling with pope (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 28/7/05)
Fear in the church about financial deficit of WYD - ZDF news (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 20/7/05)
Security is tight especially with the pope (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 21/7/05)
Preparation week: "120.000 visitors" (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 27/7/05)
Sex and the World Youth Day: Condoms and the Pope (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 27/7/05)
Confession at Heart of Youth Day (Zenit 27/7/05)

32 Aug 2005