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Priest starts campaign for London to host World Youth Day

Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate the closing Mass of World Youth Day in Madrid last year (Photo: CNS)

A priest in the Diocese of Westminster has begun a campaign for London to host the World Youth Day in 2016.

Fr Stephen Wang set up a Facebook group, “World Youth Day London 2016”, to test whether there is popular interest in the idea.

Fr Wang, dean of studies at the Allen Hall seminary in west London, said he was inspired after receiving an invitation to a group campaigning to host the 2015 World Youth Day in Kracow, from a pilgrim he had met in Madrid last year.

Fr Wang said: “It reminded me of all the fantastic buzz and energy among the English pilgrims in Madrid. There were English pilgrims all over the place, and we had lots of conversations about how fantastic it would be to have a World Youth Day in London. It was just dreams on the one hand, but there were lots of serious conversations about how it would be organised, where we would have the final Mass, and how would London cope.”

He said that the English Church could “put forward a fantastic proposal” and that, after the event had been staged in Spain, France, Italy and Germany in recent years, “the United Kingdom is the next obvious one”.

He added: “It wouldn’t just be a London event but a national event, we could even include Ireland, all the different dioceses and cities doing all these amazing things. But there is nowhere like London, in terms of the space, the infrastructure, the transport, food outlets, the venues, the parks and commons, and we have this unusual situation of three dioceses converging on one city. It is the biggest youth event in the world and London would be the ideal city.”