Sceptics call (Catholic) World Youth Day just one big party; others insist it strengthens the faith, writes Linda Morris. I call it a big waste of taxpayers money!
The thrust of the article is: do the World Youth Days actually encourage youth to attend mass and become part of the church? Apparently the youth have been drifting away from the church. Go figure.
The article starts with an interview of Mellisa Dwyer who attended the WYD in Rome eight years ago. Following which she became a nun. She had this to say about her time in Rome:
“In Rome there was such an overwhelming sense of community. … In Australia our faith is so hidden but in Rome it was so contagious.
Sounds to me like typical crowd hysteria. That’s what a lot of people don’t get, go to any large gathering of people supporting something and you can be overwhelmed. The emotions can be quite contagious, you only have to go to any football ground to see that in action.
World Youth Days are big business. By all accounts, Sydney’s will cost more than $200 million, sucking up $15 million of the church’s own money in Sydney and more than $160 million in taxpayer money and subsidies. (emphasis mine)
It gets more expensive by the day, last time I checked it was only going to cost us about $100 million. I (and many others) think that it is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, but not everyone does:
But as the Vatican commentator John Allen once noted, to the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, it is a small price to pay to challenge, if only for a week, the powerful social currents that press youth towards secular conceptions of identity and satisfaction.
WTF? What is wrong with youth taking on secular conceptions anyway? So the youth are getting educated and going “hey, all this science stuff makes so much sense, and Catholicism and god doesn’t. Maybe I’ll stop being indoctrinated with false ideologies, and ditch the church” Like that’s a bad thing? Well I guess it might be if you make your billions from deluding people. Another thing, it might be a “small price to pay” for the Catholics, they’re only chucking in $15 Million after all. It’s us poor taxpayers, who had no say in the matter, who are putting up the vast bulk of the money.
The article goes on to point out that there are about 5.1 million “Catholics” in Australia, but that most of them never attend Mass. According to their own figures fewer than 14%. So does that mean there are really only 700,000 Catholics in Australia? So why are we pandering to this relative minority? I thought it funny how Pell uses the term “census Catholics”, we all know how skewed the census data is. (see my articles on the Census or Christianity a declining population)
Pell … sees many areas of Australian life as hostile or indifferent to Christ’s claims.
That’s probably because most of us are smart enough to know:
a) christ doesn’t exist,
b) god doesn’t exist,
c) Catholics are deluded.
… will get the church back to the halcyon days of 1950s when the seminaries and religious congregations were full …
Reminds me of what a recent PM had dreams of, we dumped him too. The bishops haven’t realised the world has moved on, that people have started to realise that institutionalised religion has so many failings.
Paul Collins, author of: Believers: Does Australian Catholicism Have A Future? seems to be of the opinion that C-WYD won’t make much difference.
“Perhaps for a tiny minority it will be a life-changing event but most will revert to their previous patterns of existence …
being, calling themselves Catholics but not actually being practicing Catholics.
Collins says most lay Catholics he speaks to describe it as an expensive folly.
So it’s not just us atheists who think C-WYD is a waste of money.
On the other hand Richard Rymarz, a Catholic academic, says
we should not underestimate World Youth Day’s value just because it is big and flashy and populist.
Rymarz has undertaken studies of people who went to previous C-WYD, and is studying participants at the Australian one. He found that there was some increased involvement in their parish after attending a C-WYD, with
… participants more willing to talk of their faith to friends and family
Oh Great. As if we haven’t heard enough of this before the event we’ll have to listen to ‘born again’ Catholics banging on about it afterwards. Anyway, it’s like any sort of rally, there will always be some who get caught up in the emotion and apply it to their lives for a while. You see the same thing with those motivational speakers, or marketing and management gurus, after going to their seminars some people get all enthused and change their life around (I’ve often wondered for how long though). The majority forget all about it almost straight away.
Rymarz goes on to question the impact of C-WYD and whether it
facilitates supportive communities that met the needs of younger Catholics. For example, at many universities there is no longer a Catholic student group.
Hardly surprising that universities don’t have Catholic student groups. One would hope our university students have enquiring and open minds and the intelligence to question religious dogmas.
The rest of the article talks about Sarah Collins who
was a cradle Catholic, raised in the church, compelled by devout parents to attend Sunday Mass
In other words brainwashed and indoctrinated from birth. Collins ‘left the church’ in her teens but ended up going to the C-WYD in Cologne and was re-energised in her faith. She was amazed that
There was great camaraderie, everyone waking with the same purpose in solidarity.
What did she expect a million people all with the same reason to be there would be like? It’s hardly a reason to devout your life to god. The argument from numbers is a logical fallacy and no reason to believe something is inherently true.
I’ll finish off with the closing comments from Pell
“World Youth Day is not magic and we have never claimed it will be a cure-all.
C-WYD might not be magic but everything else you believe in is.
magic noun: any art that invokes supernatural powers
Even many of the sceptics will be pleasantly surprised and moved by the sight of many tens of thousands of happy, hopeful and faith-filled young adults among us,” he says.
Surprised: Yes, surprised at the number of deluded people.
Moved: Yes, moved to writing about what a waste of time and money the whole C-WYD is.
pleasantly surprised and moved …: NO.
Though I think he was talking about the sceptics in the Catholic church, who as mentioned earlier think C-WYD is a waste of money and won’t change anything. Though how you can be skeptical and a Catholic is way beyond my comprehension.