Catholic and Cool in Sydney
July 23, 2008
World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney was a triumph for the Catholic Church and its 81-year-old head, Pope Benedict XVI. About 400,000 people attended a final Mass on Sunday (July 20), briefly making the pilgrims’ destination bigger than the nation’s capital, Canberra. Some baffled journalists described it as a Catholic Woodstock – the 1969 orgy of, drugs and sex and rock ‘n roll which became an iconic moment for baby-boomers. But 40 years later, the world has moved in an unexpected direction. WYD, the biggest youth event in history, is an anti-Woodstock, a repudiation of the materialism and secularism of the baby-boomers.
After years of being booed offstage, the curtains have again opened and God is being greeted with tumultuous applause. As a young woman commenting the event on Australian TV said, with unabashed confidence, it used not to be “trendy” to be a Catholic in Sydney, but now “it’s become cool again”. No wonder the news that Madrid will host WYD 2011 was greeted with such jubilation.