August 1, 2016
Krakow, Poland—President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama welcomed the announcement July 31 by Pope Francis that the next World Youth Day (WYD) will be hosted by Panama in 2019, marking the first time that the event will take place in Central America. The pope accepted the request presented by Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa and other Central American Catholic authorities.
“Panama is very proud that the Holy Father chose our country,” said Varela. “This comes in recognition of Panama’s democratic and economic stability, public safety and privileged location, as well as our commitment to honesty, transparency and social justice we have established these past few years.”
World Youth Day was an initiative started by St. John Paul II, and since then has been celebrated in 14 cities around the world, beginning in Rome in 1985 and including:
• 1987, Buenos Aires
• 1988, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
• 1991, Czestochowa, Poland
• 1993, Denver
• 1995, Manila
• 1997, Paris
• 2000, Rome
• 2002, Toronto
• 2005, Cologne, Germany
• 2008, Sydney
• 2011, Madrid
• 2013, Rio de Janeiro
• 2016, Krakow
“We will support the Archdiocese in every way possible to guarantee that WYD 2019 is a successful event,” said President Varela who traveled to Krakow, Poland to receive the news.
President Varela also highlighted Panama’s cultural diversity, boosted by its location as a transit hub and the Panama Canal.
“All these characteristics influence our human, social, political, economic and religious heritage and make Panama the ideal location for events like WYD,” he said.
The visit of Pope Francis to Panama for WYD 2019 will mark the first visit of a Vatican Head of State to Panama since St. John Paul II in 1983.