“The next World Youth Day in the year 2016 will be in Krakow, in Poland!” the Pope said at the close of Sunday Mass in Rio July 28.
The event is sure to attract millions.
Bl. Pope John Paul II was Archbishop of Krakow before his election to the papacy. The archdiocese has about 1.5 million Catholics and over 1,100 diocesan priests across 439 parishes, according to the website Catholic Hierarchy.
Cardnal Stanisław Dziwisz, the present Archbishop of Krakow, was personal secretary to John Paul II.
Poland has over 38 million people, about 90 percent of whom are Catholic, the CIA World Factbook says.
Poland is one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. Though the nation remained staunchly Catholic under Soviet-imposed atheistic communism, and took special pride in the papacy of John Paul II, the country has become somewhat more secularized in the last two decades. Weekly church attendance has dropped below 40 percent.
The choice of Krakow marks a return to Europe, which has hosted the global youth event three of the last six times.
Madrid, Spain hosted the World Youth Day in 2011 while Sydney, Australia hosted the event in 2008 and Cologne, Germany hosted the event in 2005. Toronto, Canada hosted it in 2002 while Rome hosted World Youth Day 2000.