The following is a letter I sent to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper today:
I noted in today’s paper (page 10, SMH, 28 April) a letter to the editor that starts:
“Please feel free to write a letter that does not mention World Youth Day”
I would have to agree with letter writer Max, that if the paper is going to continue publishing C-WYD articles the readers are going to continue writing letters. Especially when the articles include poorly researched, myopic, self aggrandising ones like Anthony McCarthy’s – Benedictions on our fair city; which was on the next page! (page 11, SMH, 28 April).
The following is a rebuttal to Anthony’s article, this was also sent to the newspaper, but due to its length I doubt it will be published.
A rebuttal to: Benedictions on our fair city, by Anthony McCarthy – The Sydney Morning Herald; Monday 28 April 2008.
I’ve read some poorly researched, myopic, self aggrandising opinion pieces before, but Anthony’s must rank as one of the worst the Sydney Morning Herald SMH) has published?
Apart from the fact that he thinks the Catholic World Youth Day (C-WYD) is a good thing, and thinks everyone else should think so as well (trust me there are plenty who don’t), his facts are somewhat exaggerated.
Anthony tries in vain to compare the C-WYD to the Sydney Olympics, both in number of attendees and inclusiveness. Firstly the CATHOLIC World Youth day is mainly of interest to Catholics, and even some Catholics see it as a waste of money. Anthony states “WYD is not the Olympic Games but in some ways it is more participatory…” I don’t know how he comes to that conclusion, some evidence would be nice? He also states the vast majority of Olympic visitors were athletes and media personnel. Seeing as there were only 11,000 athletes, but 6 million tickets to venues were sold, I highly doubt his conclusion. The Olympics had participants from 199 countries, the Paralympics had 122 nationalities. How many countries are visiting for the C-WYD Anthony? Whilst I don’t play any sports I can happily watch most of them and I don’t have to be a member of any particular sect to get something out of it. Anthony says everyone is welcome; does that include all the members of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, the Australian Skeptics Society, the Secular Party of Australia or various other non-religious groups who would be happy to point out to your participants the many inconsistencies in the Catholic traditions? I think not.
Anthony states that more than 400,000 people will attend the mass at Randwick and this will be the “largest gathering of people in Australia’s history”. For a start that’s a big call seeing it’s still 80 days away before this event occurs, so his figures are at best an educated guess. Second, in comparison to the Olympics; 400,345 people attended Sydney Olympic Park on day 8 of the 2000 games. Over 5.5 million attended Sydney Olympic Park across the Olympic and Paralympic Games. There were 47,000 volunteers and their ticker-tape parade attracted 100,000, not bad for just a bunch of volunteers (no disparagement to the volunteers). At last count the C-WYD was even struggling to get anywhere near their required number of volunteers. So which event is really the more popular one?
Whilst we are mentioning numbers: 10,000 people were in the gay and lesbian Mardi Gras parade, with crowds of over 300,000 in 2008. (largest crowd attending a Mardi Gras was estimated at over 500,000 in 1993) Anthony’s hoped for 400,000 is comparable, but as gays are supposed to account for only 4-10% of the population and Catholics are supposed to represent 26-29%, the ratio is lower for the Catholics. I would also like to make an assumption here; number of non-Catholics at C-WYD less than 10%, number of non-gays in audience at Mardi Gras greater than 50% (I have no figures for this assumption apart from some anecdotal evidence, and am happy to be corrected if someone can find correct figures) so which event is more inclusive? And I wonder which event gets the most money from the government?
Whilst C-WYD might be a big deal for Anthony and his many Catholic Youth mates, rest assured it’s not for the majority of the rest of us Australians.
A. Some Olympic and Paralympic Games Achievements http://www.gamesinfo.com.au/ho/ARNW103002.html
B. Socio-Economic Impact of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games http://olympicstudies.uab.es/pdf/od013_eng.pdf
C. Costs, closures turn masses off big event http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/costs-closures-turn-masses-off-big-event/2008/04/27/1208743316571.html
D. Welcome to God’s mosh pit http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/costs-closures-turn-masses-off-big-event/2008/04/27/1208743316571.html
E. Mardi Gras History http://www.mardigras.org.au/internal.cfm?sub=History&nav=About%20us
F. Massive crowds expected for Mardi Gras http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/01/2177016.htm?section=justin
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