Due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Pope Francis has decided to postpone the World Meeting of Families and the World Youth Day. The two events were scheduled to happen in June 2021 in Rome, and 2022 in Lisbon, respectively.
The postponement was recommended by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, which was then agreed on by the Holy Father. According to a statement from the Director of the Holy See Office, the decision was brought about by the current health situation all over the world, and if the event pushes through, it might put the participants’ health at risk.
In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery, said that if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, he would have already been contacting hotels and airlines for arrangements during the two events.
Aside from the two events, all meetings of the dicastery have also been postponed until January 2021. However, they are still planning to hold a small gathering for the handing over of the cross from Panama, 2019 World Youth Day hosts, to Lisbon. The handing of the cross symbolizes the turnover of World Youth Day hosting from one country to another.
The handing over was previously scheduled for April 5, Palm Sunday, but was postponed due to the lockdowns and travel restrictions related to COVID-19. It has now been rescheduled to November 22, 2020, the Feast of Christ the King.
Meanwhile, the World Meeting of Families has been moved to June 2022, and the World Youth Day has been pushed back to August 2023.