Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 21, No 2 (2008)

Who goes to World Youth Day? Some Data on Young Adult Australian Pilgrims

Richard Rymarz
Issued Date: 4 Mar 2009


A key feature of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II was the staging of World Youth Days (WYD), a practice that has continued under his successor Benedict XVI. Beginning in 1985 these events, held internationally every two to three years, are amongst the largest international gatherings of young people. In 2000, for example, the WYD held in Rome attracted over three million pilgrims. WYD has become a significant social phenomenon, especially in an era where there is a sustained and widespread disaffiliation of young adults from mainstream Churches. Participants at WYD are mainly Catholics although the invitation to take part is extended to all. There has been little empirical work, however, on who attends WYD and their motivations for attending. This paper will report on research conducted on some Australian pilgrims who attended the 2005 WYD in Cologne. This research will use both quantitative and qualitative techniques to try and build up a profile of WYD pilgrims.

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DOI: 10.1558/arsr.v21i2.127


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