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Experts are very divided about whether religions have helped or hindered the latest step towards globalization. While archive-based studies tracking the relationships between religions and globalization remain scarce, this paper aims to contribute to this conversation through a historical inquiry into Word Youth Days (WYDs), global religious festivals organized by the Catholic Church every two or three years since 1984. Reviewing the documentation spread in seven of the eight countries where WYDs were held during John Paul II’s pontificate, I argue that these mega-events, embedded in the globalization process, were an attempt to make globalization more inclusive. According to me, Catholicism remains a globalizing force in the contemporary era.

Charles Mercier is an associate professor of history at the University of Bordeaux (France), a researcher at the LACES EA 7437 and a member of the Institut universitaire de France. Mercier has written or edited ten books, including L’Eglise, les jeunes et la mondialisation: Une histoire des JMJ (Bayard, 2020). He’s currently involved in a five-year project (2017–22) on “Youths and Religions in a Global and Secular Age”. Mercier received his PhD in history from Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne University in 2011.

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