The twenty-third World Youth Day begins tomorrow in Sydney, Australia. The Vatican offers a chronology of the previous events from their foundational events in 1984.
This year’s event will bring 15,000 young people from the United States to Sydney from July 15 through 20 the largest delegation representing any country outside of Australia. The pilgrims will be joined by 50 U.S. bishops, including Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The gathering of thousands of Catholic in Australia has brought out the typical negative stories in the media about how the Church is out of touch with today’s youth.
However, a more detailed study by the German Bertelsmann Foundation found that 85% of young adults between 18 and 29 are religious, and 44% are deeply religious. Only 13% have no appreciation for God or faith in general.
“The assumption that religious belief is dwindling continuously from generation to generation is clearly refuted by our worldwide surveys — even in many industrialized nations,” Dr. Martin Rieger, project leader of the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Religion Monitor, concluded in a press statement.
There are several sources for keeping up with the World Youth Day events on the Internet.
The official World Youth Day website is the best source to track the daily schedule of events. Also note the virtual website recommended by the U.S. Bishops for sneaking live looks at the festivities.