It seems as though the success of the London 2012 games has reignited the calls for the UK to host World Youth Day. Something which was rather inevitable, and possibly not such a bad thing. We know from these games, from the Papal Visit and from a load of other things that we've got a nice country, that we can run big events and that once the events actually start, the moaning that led up to them soon evaporates!
The bottom line is that it's not going to happen in 2015 or 2016. In other words, it's not going to come to London straight after Rio, but I think we can expect that it will eventually. Probably some time in the 2020s.
Last September we wrote an opinion piece about the possibility of WYD-UK. It was referenced by the Herald and several other bodies and seemed to set the standard of caution back then. At least, in the immediate term. Our view, for what it's worth, hasn't changed much since then. Short version: Let's concentrate on building local provision; It will come our way eventually, which is good, but having WYD straight after Rio would be a knee-jerk reaction for the wrong reasons.
Since writing that article I've learned something interesting about the possible genesis of an eventual UK WYD. After WYD 2005 in Cologne, a number of senior figures in CBCEW-land got around a table to talk about the possibilities. They were brainstorming what a WYD-UK might look like, rather than putting together a serious plan and, predictably, it went nowhere. The will in the Bishops' Conference didn't exist then, and it still doesn't now. It's persuading the Bishops that will prove by far the biggest hurdle for the WYD-UK campaigners.
The plan thrashed out back then - tentative though it was - was to have London as the host city and RAF Northholt as the venue for the Vigil and final Mass with the Pope. The use of Cuatro Vientos in Madrid last year showed us that military airbases aren't a bad option, so I suspect that this plan might be the one that ends up eventually being adopted.
Definitely won't be 2015/16 though!
As I've just posted on Facebook, the venue for WYD 2015/16 will be announced in less than a year which means it will leak out to those of us who keep our ear to the ground in the coming months. In other words, it's probably already decided by now and the eventual host city will have been involved in discussions, negotiations and arrangements for a very long time. In short, if it were us, we would know. Or, at least, well placed people would. I am one of those people and I can tell you with utter certainty that it's not on anybody's radar. Not in Eccleston Square, not in CYMFed, not in Diocesan offices and not anywhere else.
WYD-UK 2015/16 was a nice idea (actually, I'm being polite - it was a very badly thought-out idea, but hey!) but it's not going to happen now!