Catholic and Cool in Sydney

July 23, 2008

After Years of Being Booed Offstage, the Curtains Have Again Opened and God is Being Greeted with Tumultuous Applause

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.

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