Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This year's World Youth Day was celebrated in Australia, and was just wrapped up this past Sunday. It was an amazing picture of how disconnected the media can be from people in general.

I have set up RSS feeds that search for news on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict. The news stories coming out of Australia the week before WYD were just horrible. It was all news about groups protesting the Pope, or about the public's reaction to sex abuse scandals, or about this or that bishop's mishandling of Church affairs. Bad, bad, bad.

So then the Pope comes. The stories coming out of Australia were typical of every other WYD: thousand of pilgrims, people standing and walking for hours to see the Pope or to listen to him speak, friends being made, hearts being converted, etcetera, etcetera. They actually had the largest gathering of people ever in Australia for the Pope's Sunday mass. That's right: ever. More people attended the Pope's mass than attended the Olympics in Sydney in 2004.

This would seem to indicate a populace that is interested, and maybe even a little enchanted, with the Holy Father.

It's not the job of the press to tell people simply what they want to hear, but nor is it their job to magnify the concerns of a disgruntled minority from isolated complaints into "news". I suspect that the news media in Australia, as in many other Western countries, is often made up of members of this disgruntled minority. It may behoove them, the next time the Pope is in town, to walk to the streets and to get a feel for what everyone is so excited about. They may find it to be newsworthy, as well.

For a Catholic perspective on WYD, check out Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston's blog: http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/.

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