SO, at the end of World Youth Day, what have we learned about the thousands who converged on Sydney, Australia, over the past week?
Two things: The Catholic faithful have an insatiable appetite for kitsch, and – to their credit – are remarkably sanguine when pelted with condoms.
First, the kitsch: Perhaps the most glaring example was a T-shirt bearing the slogan Does This Shirt Make Me Look Catholic? (We stuck one on the Pope to reveal it in all its monumental tackiness.)
Then there were all manner of religious mementos ranging from crucifix mints to usb memory sticks in the shape of the cross.
And, according to this report:
The Italians brought along a heavy-metal group, from the United States there’s a rapping priest and representing switched-on Austria at Sydney’s week-long youth festival Thursday were a couple of monks that top the European pop charts with their CD of Gregorian chants. Welcome to the World Youth Day celebrations, where nationalities compete to show that the faithful aren’t fuddy-duddies and fashion is for believers too.
John Herron, a former government minister and once Canberra’s envoy to the Vatican, delighted in the trend, also evident bling emblazoned with the real Madonna. He said:
Don’t be ashamed of anything, about your religion or your birth or your age or who you are. There’s nothing to be ashamed about by being a public Catholic. You should be more assertive, because you stand for something.
Now to the condoms: Thousands were thrown at Catholic pilgrims on Saturday as protestors made the most of a court ruling allowing them to “annoy” participants at the church’s World Youth Day festival in Sydney.
A pilgrimage walk organised for the festival took many young worshippers through the city’s gay district, where about 500 people demonstrated against Pope Ratzinger’s opposition to homosexuality and contraception. They chanted “Pope go homo, gay is great” and sang “Pope is wrong, put a condom on.
Protesters wore T-shirts with slogans such as “Thank God I’m an atheist” and “Bless me father for I am a homo”.