As I was flicking through my twitter account over the weekend I saw the following posting: ‘next WYD to be in Rio’. I quickly got into google and typed ‘WYD in Rio’ and you know what?, it seems that already everyone knows about it – are we then just waiting for the papal seal? – I hope not I thought – to be completely honest, I hope Pope Benedict proves all these rumors wrong and confirms (cough)… my choice.
Following the thread of 13 WYD’s, it seems that indeed South America should be the next continent where young Catholics should gather together for this mega event. But Rio? Surely in ‘the continent of hope’ – as Paul VI and JP2 called it – there are at least 2 other cities where WYD could be comfortably held.
Let’s explore these possibilities from North to South.
The first city where WYD could be celebrated next is Mexico City. This is a city rich in culture, history and Catholicism. The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the city, she has been venerated there since 1737 and she is not only loved in Mexico but also in the rest of Latin America. This country is home to the ancient indigenous Mayan culture, the weather is perfect with an average of 12C- 23C all year round and Mexicans are very welcoming people. Direct flights from LHR would take approx. 11hr 25mins.
Next is Rio, which can be reach direct from London in 12hrs flight. Rio, or better said Christ (the redeemer) will welcome us with open arms in Corcovado hill. There should be no problem arriving in winter (southern hemisphere) as the minimum temperature is around 18C and a max of 26C. Having the carnival as precedent, Brazilians will surely put a worthy WYD full of samba with a great happy atmosphere. However Rio is also hosting the Word Cup in 2014 and Olympic games in 2016. With this in mind would it be not fair to host WYD somewhere else?
And here is where my preferred choice lies – sorry to be biased Santiago de Chile: A city in the foothills of los Andes mountain range will offer the perfect backdrop for WYD. True it is a bit further away, 16hrs from London but not further than Sydney! It is an extremely modern city and it has been voted number 1 destination by the New York Times. The rest of the country offers the most varied landscapes from the Atacama desert in the North to the glaciers in the South. Chileans not only have a very welcoming heart but many young people are active in their faith and at the ‘end of the world’ will be eager to receive pilgrims from all over the world. Last year, Chile had to cope with one of the most difficult times in its history with the 8.8 earthquake and the trapped miners from San Jose, where they’ve shown the world how the Chilean spirit is united with God in adversity.
The first and the last time a Pope visited Chile was in 1987 by JP2, and just as the UK saw JP2 in 1982, Chile’s vast majority of Catholics are long overdue a visit. So I pray and hope Pope Benedict – please, please dear Pope, if you are reading my blog - surprise us in Madrid by heading straight down in 2013 to the longest country in the world!