World Youth Day: by the numbers

Pope BenedictHeadlines can be tricky things. In perusing the stories on the upcoming World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, I came across three distinct types. The most basic news story simply contained edicts declaring the beginning of World Youth Day, often with a large number attached:

Young people arrive in Cologne for Catholic festival

World Youth Day begins for 400,000

Second, you had local stories from news organizations around the world proclaiming that local Catholics were embarking for Cologne.

Angolans Travel to Cologne for Catholic World Youth Day

Local Catholics head to World Youth Day

2,000 Irish taking part in World Youth Day pilgrimage

And third were the more ambitious articles that attempted to set an agenda for the week’s news in Cologne. Stories like these are the ones to watch, for they will determine the world’s perception of the event.

A story by the U.K.-based Christian Today stands out:

Pope Benedict will have to work hard to appease German Protestants that he is serious about pledges to improve relations as he returns to his native Germany for World Youth Day, which starts today.

The Pope’s return to his homeland this week will be the first time he has been in Germany since he was appointed as pontiff.

The preparations for World Youth Day are about to pay off as the Pope attends the massive event, expected to be attended by some 800,000 young Roman Catholics in the Rhineland city of Cologne.

Christian Today‘s Maria Mackay is pursuing an interesting if somewhat predictable angle. Germany is the birthplace of Protestantism, as well as of the new Pope. Will Pope Benedict have the same effect on his homeland as did Pope John Paul II? Is this the beginning of a great movement in the country toward unification between the two sects of Christianity? I doubt it.

Protestants respect the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as a Pope who understands and appreciates their views far more than any pope before him, but also feel threatened by his deeply “Roman” posture and his keenness to reawaken a strong Catholic identity among Catholics worldwide.

Reuters picks up what appears to be a reprint of that story with a slightly altered lead. Watch for this story line to spread.

COLOGNE, Germany — Pope Benedict faces a tightrope walk with Protestants over pledges to improve relations when he returns to his German homeland this week for the first time since he became pontiff.

The AP has a take on Pope Benedict’s personality and the Guardian looks at Pope Benedict’s attempts to reclaim Europe’s youth.

Watch your local newspapers tomorrow and see which they pick up. Since most smaller newspapers in America don’t have Reuters subscriptions, watch for the AP story to dominate the local coverage.

By the way, Amy Wellborn’s blog is all over World Youth Day.

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  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    As far as the Protestant angle is concerned, I see in this Wikipedia article that “The city is 43% Roman Catholic, 18% Protestant and 39% with other religions or none.” Some people seem to forget about Catholic Germany.

    More interesting (from the same article) is the factoid that Cologne is the only German city “with an explicit tax on prostitution and other sex businesses.”

  • http://killtheafterlife.blogspot.com AK

    I heard that the World Youth Day attendance is smaller every year. A few years back, CNN did an article saying that the World Youth Day was setting low attendance records.

    Finally, progress.

  • dpt

    400,000 + registered to attend WYD and approximately 1 million expected for an open air mass.

    Such a horrible decline for the Church in our day & age of materialism, secularism and mass media/pop appeal!

  • http://makaipa.blogspot.com Nancy Reyes

    The press doesn’t get religion? You should watch CNN International…I had it on to see the pope’s arrival and the CNN guy, a snotty Brit with a terrible attitude and accent, kept wondering if he would liberalize or continue to teach JP2′s “opinions” on homosexuality and abortion…
    Clueless that these “opinions” go back to the Didache, if not earlier…
    When JP2 died, I got so tired of a similar constant commentary by Christianne ammanpour that I turned on the Singapore NewsAsia…


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