World Youth Day 2013

World Youth Day 2013

Is the Church really “engaging with youth” at these events? Apart from vague exhortations to follow Christ (without spelling out any of the practical implications of doing so) what is the point of these World Youth Days? Are they making young people more Catholic?

Comments (33)

  • Crossraguel

    I posted these remarks on the general thread last night:

    Just digested some of EWTN’s coverage of the opening Mass for World Youth Day. Pope Francis was not present, citing rest after his journey.

    Attempting to put aside my natural aversion to such contemporary expressions of Catholicism, and endeavouring to play devil’s advocate to my own instinctive sentiment, some initial observations: probably a euphoric environment/atmosphere, apparently widespread sincerity in participation. Reasonably slick opening ceremony and delivery, large, impressive ‘sanctuary’ on Copacabana beach. From what I heard of readings/collect/sermon etc. nothing especially contrary to the faith. Four altar boys, no altar girls. Beautiful rendition of Panis Angelicus during/after holy communion.

    My own perspective: noisy rock concert atmosphere, it’d doubtless be possible to have acquired some temporal enjoyment from proceedings, without any spiritual offering being present. The Mass was certainly integrated into proceedings, though I’d contend that the solemn sacrifice insofar as it was offered in the consecration was ruptured from the wider means of expression, the overtly charismatic and hyperactive Gloria exemplifying the contrast. The prevalence of national flags throughout the crowd too also struck me (I may have missed devotional banners, but certainly recall seeing none), perhaps as a consequence of my earlier chastisement at the hands of my father for having taken a turn carrying the stars and stripes in our Chartres chapter as a boy – he having criticised the (sincere, probably ignorant/immersed in their cult of nagionality) Americans for having taken it along, citing its anti-Catholic revolutionary, freemasonic etc. origins, contrasted with the Irish banner in honour of Our Blessed Lady, which we also took turn to carry. How many national flags these days represent other than vestiges of historic Christianity or secularism at best, overt rejection of Christ at worst.

    I had left the room for a time, so missed most of the distribution of Holy Communion – it was also dark so hard to make out. What I think I observed was the faithful joining hands in a chain going to or coming from reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Needless innovation and I’d reckon calculated to send the faithful back to their parishes with renewed vigour, though converting those of a more conservative default to be freed of their liturgical inhibitions.

    Like Medjugorje, I’d concede that those of good faith may take some degree of spiritual enrichment from attending such an event, imbibed as it is in Catholicism. The nature of such an event however is surely far the more dangerous to the fledgling and probably under-catechised Catholic, whose temporal senses are likely to be aroused much as they are at rock concerts and particularly by evangelical protestants, the latter whose vacuous product, devoid of the limitations of the spiritual necessity and liturgical discipline of revelation and truth, is likely to be the more aesthetically pleasing, appealing as it does to the humanist tendencies of our fallen nature. With the richness of faith, tradition, sacraments, why attempt to take our own youth onto the playing field of others, failing to emphasise the rich treasures of Catholicism, rather attempt to pitch a lowest common denominator of synchretism which inherently endangers the soul.

    That Pope Francis may surprise us by some ligurgical restoration akin to Paul VI and Humane Vitae, published 45 years ago today.

    I further commented that the predominance of Brazilians and Argentinians reported to having attended also contextualises somewhat the high apostasy rate in favour of pentecostal sects in Brazil particularly, South America generally:

    July 24, 2013 at 10:48 am
  • gabriel syme

    I broadly agree with Crossraguels remarks, in that there is good in WYD events, but – due to the youthful and often very modern nature of them – it would be easy for them to go awry, especially for the under-catechised (ie most mainstream Catholics these days).

    (With youth involved things can easily deviate from the intention. My school sent a bunch of people to Rome for Cardinal Winnings elevation, and when they returned the talk was all of how drunk they had been, and liasons with the opposite sex etc. Winning didnt get a look in).

    I have liked it how Pope Francis has been refusing to give communion in the hand, since his reign began, and hope that continues here. (If he would only insist on kneeling too).

    I think in principle the idea is good. I think its easy for young Catholics to write off the faith as being the preserve of the local bunch of Grannies; but to travel to a foriegn country and meet fellow Catholics from all corners of the world must be very special indeed and show how faith transends our preconceptions, our own communities and indeed ourselves.

    I dislike the “happy clappy” feel that some of the event photos have.

    On the other hand, Extraordinary Form Catholic Youth does have a presence at these events, and I am sure that will only continue to grow. A beautiful Church has been set aside for this group. Every day there are Catechesis sessions from Bishop Rifan of Campos and at least 2 Missa Cantatas (one day has a Pontifical High Mass).

    See here for the schedule:!programme

    Of course, this grouping will be only a very small amount amongst the bulk of the pilgrims, but I am sure it will grow in future WYDs. It is good to think that some of the hand-holding, happy-clappy mob will be exposed to traditional worship in this way – even if only by accident – and will be profoundly struck by its great dignity and beauty.

    July 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm
    • editor

      “Extraordinary Form Catholic Youth”

      What’s that, Gabriel Syme?

      Are these young people who adhere to the Traditional Latin Mass? I ask…

      The day that I refer to the ancient Mass as the “Extraordinary Form” is the day I lose my mind, and of all the things I’ve ever lost, I’m sure I’ll miss my mind the most…(the old ones are the best, jokes as well as Mass!)

      July 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm
      • gabriel syme

        A fair point you make Editor!

        I had typed “young traditional Catholics” at first, but then changed it after thinking “someone will say they are not traditional”. haha! 😉

        But I agree – you make an good point – and I too dislike labelling of Catholics and the mass, beyond simply calling them ‘Catholics’ and ‘the mass’.

        I will banish the phrase “extraordinary form” from my vocabulary to the same dark corner where “Roman Catholic” lurks!

        July 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm
  • editor

    Gabriel Syme,

    You are moving steadily up the pay scale!

    July 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm
  • Josephine

    The thing about this WYD is that it’s all about numbers really. Cardinal Dolan (USA) is very enthusiastic, speaking about evangelisation which is the theme, but how can young people evangelise anyone when they don’t get taught the faith themselves? This is a report on the Catholic news agency website:

    July 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm
    • Petrus

      I just don’t like WYD. I think it is sentimentalism on a grand scale. It plays on teenage emotion and whips everyone up into a frenzy. The pope is portrayed as a cross between a rock star and a loveable old grandfather. Nothing authentically Catholic about it.

      July 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm
  • 3littleshepherds

    I’m Roman so I guess I say I’m a Catholic Roman.

    July 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm
    • Petrus

      You are Roman?

      July 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm
      • 3littleshepherds

        Yes, I’m Roman, but I don’t live there. My parents were from there.

        July 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        I am replying to you, because I can’t post in the usual manner, I am contacting WordPress about on the advice of Editor…

        In my prejudiced opinion, the certain type of young person who goes to WYD is one I would ordinarily find irritating. That’s harsh perhaps, but I’ve met them, and that remains my gut feeling.

        Last time round, Madrid attendees were given a complementary copy of YouCat (The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church). Aside from no young Catholics whatsoever I met being at all interested in buying, reading, or discussing the thing (except one, a dyed-in-the-wool Charismaticist), when I bought it I found in bland. Very bland. I had no desire to read it. It didn’t tell me anything. I would read it and not know what I had just read. I felt very excruciatingly uncomfortable skimming through the book, scanning the contents looking for something engaging to get my attention. I felt embarrassed for buying it.

        There is a sexually inappropriate cartoon illustration, which depicts flagrant inuendo (page 224 I think, I threw my copy away, it is above the paragraph concerning Catholic teaching on pornography). I complained to the UK publisher/distributer CTS. Their respnse: “it shows no such thing”. I feel I was perceived at best as some kind of censorius prude, at worst a sexual weirdo.

        I don’t care. I would expect of myself always to say what I see. I showed it to a more worldy aquaintence, in case I am a sexual weirdo and I was seeing something that wasn’t there, but he confirmed my interpretation of the image exactly. He didn’t care. I do, because someone is having a good laugh at the Church, Pope Benedict XVI endorsed it, and they got payed for it.

        The millions of young people to whom the book was given, obviously haven’t read the thing. Otherwise they would have noticed and more people would have commented on the image, among the publications other lesser defects (e.g. cartoon figures committing violence against one another, photographs of peculiar looking persons on every other page, the gaudy layout, not to mention the heresy).

        No one else seems to have noticed the dirty picture, perhaps I am dirty minded. If that is the case, compared to the infantile innocence of my pious brethren, I am obviously more down to earth than them. And that’s a good thing, because young people who don’t get the youth culture make impotent instruments for the so called New Evangelisation and their absurd nativity exposes the Church to ridicule (although I know full well, full well, they can see what I see. This is an Emperor’s New Clothes situation. They’re just too scared to say anything).

        If anyone wants a frank description of the image or would like to read my email correspondence with CTS, please email me. I wasn’t particularly offended by the image, it was CTS’ attitude with me and the fact the Church allowed this that put me right of the New Church. This among other things was a contributory factor to my second conversion (to Tradition).

        July 25, 2013 at 6:39 pm
  • gabriel syme

    See here for pictures of a Tridentine mass celebrated by Bishop Rifan at WYD:

    Theres about 13 pictures – they look good, but I hate to see some of the congregation waving mobile phones and tablets about like that. I suppose they are trying to film the entrance procession – +Rifan does have a global profile and so is well known.

    These gadgets, phones etc, are the work of the devil – increasingly, people cannot put them down for 2 mninutes, even during mass. (You know those old fashioned wooden bats, with a rubber ball attached on elastic, which used to be given to children or the simple, to keep them occupied? Thats exactly the same niche which modern mobile phones fill).

    However, overall I think it is good that WYD is featuring such masses. I think most young people would welcome the chance to attend such a traditional mass, as many will never have had the chance. Most of the young women appear not to be wearing mantillas – surely the organisers could have had some organised for people to take, if they had none?

    The Church which the event was held in looks absolutely beautiful.

    July 26, 2013 at 11:56 am
  • editor

    Gabriel Syme,

    I’m really very interested in what you say about mobile phones, technological gadgets in general. I have a relative who is doing her best NOT to introduce her children to these and it’s an uphill battle because everybody but everybody has them. I may post a thread on this one of these day. Would be interesting to find out just how many people feel the same way.

    I found the following report, from the Vatican Radio blurb on our website, very interesting. The Dublin WYD group having a great time, despite the poor weather (interesting, isn’t it, that it’s been raining over there in Rio during this event? Talk about “take the hint””)

    (Vatican Radio) One of the most enthusiastic delegations at World Youth Day is the one from Ireland. “It’s a small delegation because of the expense of people coming here,” said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who is leading a group from Dublin.

    Archbishop Martin admitted there is one thing which has made this World Youth Day different than any other he has attended. “It’s rained much more! We had the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, and we fought against the rain, and there’s a certain sense in which the initial reaction is ‘Oh, Dear! It shouldn’t be like this!’ But it’s probably the thing everybody will talk about for years afterwards: ‘Do you remember when we were in Rio?’ and it has a way of building up solidarity,” he said.

    Archbishop Martin told Vatican Radio this solidarity is the most important aspect of these international events. “As always, the experience for our young people is meeting young people from different parts of the world – in an Ireland in which it’s not necessarily cool and popular to be a young Christian and a young Catholic – for our young people to see that there are many others experiencing the same experience and to go away strengthened in their faith,” he said. Listen to the interview by Sean-Patrick Lovett with Archbishop Martin: END.

    I wonder how many of these “enthusiastic” youngsters from Ireland are in favour of the introduction of the evil of abortion into their beautiful country? What’s the bet that, if asked, many, of not most, of them would parrot the “pro-choice” (non) arguments?

    July 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm
    • gabriel syme

      Hi Editor,

      I’m really very interested in what you say about mobile phones, technological gadgets in general. I have a relative who is doing her best NOT to introduce her children to these and it’s an uphill battle because everybody but everybody has them. I may post a thread on this one of these day. Would be interesting to find out just how many people feel the same way.

      I think your relative is doing the right thing, but I appreciate the difficulties involved.

      I think mobile phones have a place as they allow families to keep in touch – its nice to think that (eg) your daughter could quickly summon help, if her car broke down in a remote or unfamiliar area at night.

      But then there are risks with mobile phones, especially for children. With their messaging capacity and internet access, they have become conduits for pornography, sexual behaviour, bullying even. I think they are appropriate for older teens / young adults, but not for young teens.

      As a prospective parent, my main fear is the TV – its shocking how many people use it as an electronic babysitter, but then such is life these days. And what is broadcast is all about conditioning people to accept the worldly values of the day and confirm them in their general ignorance – pure propaganda, especially kids TV. I never watch the box these days, bar the news and occasional sports event.

      You are right it is difficult to say no to children when all their friends have gadget xyz, I guess the solution is to try and offer them something they will ultimately enjoy better – something creative / artistic / fun, rather than just vegetating in front of the box, or permanently glued to their phone.

      I don’t have anything against video games, (and enjoy them myself), especially ones which encourage thought. But then even these have become subtle agents of propaganda – starting to feature homosexual characters / storylines, and I even heard of a game a few years ago where the villain in the game was recognisably a portrayal of Pope Benedict XVI!

      July 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm
      • gabriel syme

        I forgot to include in my response about mobile phones:

        Not long ago, at a mass I was standing behind a man who had his mobile phone out permanently.

        Sad to say, I allowed this to distract me and I became quite indignant – I though he was reading emails or text messages.

        It turns out he was using it as an electronic missal and was following along with proceedings on his screen, just as one would with a traditional (book) missal. I felt suitably bad at having assumed the worst of the situation.

        That was quite interesting to see, but then the danger with having phones in Church at all is that they will ring.

        People are more diligent at turning their phones off when entering the cinema, than when entering Church, which is a disgrace. (That’s in my own direct experience – novus ordo masses are routinely disturbed by mobile phones ringing, but never once have I seen anyone allow that to happen during a film at the cinema. I suppose the difference is – in their own eyes – that they are paying to get into the cinema, which must focus the mind).

        All parishes should invest in some kind of signal jamming device to combat mobile phone disturbances!

        July 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm
  • Josephine

    This is interesting, from a report on the Vatican radio site about the partying going on-

    “Not all of the residents of Copacabana Beach are delighted at the prospect of having over a million hyped-up young people dancing and singing on their prestigious doorstep either. Restaurant-owners and street vendors aren’t complaining, but local home-owners are. Under the headline “Residents in revolt”, one interviewee claims he hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since the Rolling Stones held their famous concert there in 2006.”

    I wonder if the young ones partying on the beach will be any different from teenagers partying anywhere else. I hope there are no scandalous photos about to appear on the front pages across the world, but that is my fear.

    July 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    So far, so good. There’s been no repetition of the newspaper reports of all sorts going on like there was a few years back with the young people camping out, no supervision, from what I remember. I’m quite surprised at how popular Pope Francis is, because I honestly didn’t think he would be, can’t explain but I’m glad to see him being a hit with the young.

    July 27, 2013 at 10:13 pm
  • gabriel syme

    The blog Eponymous Flower is reporting “Enormous demand” for the traditional liturgical events at WYD:

    I appreciate that, just because people show an interest in the Tridentine mass, doesn’t mean everything is rosy in the Garden. Nevertheless,I am encouraged by this, especially as the traditional WYD program includes daily Catechesis sections.

    Id much rather young Catholics were exposed to the Tridentine mass at WYD, than this kind of embarrassing rubbish from the Brazilian Bishops:

    July 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm
  • Athanasius

    Take a look at this horrendous spectacle from WYD and weep. How much longer, O Lord!

    And here’s a quote from Pope Francis’ address to Brazilian Leaders, just in case anyone has tears left to shed over the present apostasy: “…It is impossible to imagine a future for society without a significant contribution of moral energies within a democratic order which will always be tempted to remain caught up in the interplay of vested interests. A basic contribution in this regard is made by the great religious traditions, which play a fruitful role as a leaven of society and a life-giving force for democracy. Peaceful coexistence between different religions is favoured by the laicity of the state, which, without appropriating any one confessional stance, respects and esteems the presence of the religious factor in society, while fostering its concrete expressions.”

    What, pray, are these “great religious traditions” the Pope speaks of? Can they save souls for eternity?

    July 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm
    • editor


      “Peaceful coexistence between different religions is favoured by the laicity of the state, which, without appropriating any one confessional stance…”

      That disposes of the quaint old idea that Christ the King is to be the head of every nation under Heaven.

      Well, Pope Francis should enjoy his popularity with the scores of religiously illiterate young people who’ve travelled far and wide to celebrate World Youth Day (? Worldly Youth Day) with him, and judge him to be “cool” – because he’s certainly not going to be popular at the only judgement that really matters. That’s for sure.

      July 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm
      • Athanasius

        Absolutely right, editor.

        Archbishop Lefebvre’s book title of many years ago still resonates today – ‘They Have Uncrowned Him.’ That’s effectively what Vatican II’s sorry generation of happy-clappies has managed to do.

        And you’re spot on about these Worldly Youth Days. There will be no saints emerging from these paganesque festivals. As someone once wisely noted, they pander to the emotions of spotty-faced youth at a time when the very young and the old are marginalised as worthless. A very worldly policy indeed!

        Isn’t it a great mystery how the Popes since John Paul II have had all these wonderful ideas on youth that apparently escaped the intellects of their predecessors? And isn’t it an even greater mystery that these wonderful ideas have resulted in more young Catholics leaving the Church or despising her precepts than at any other time in history? New Pentecost, I don’t think!

        July 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm
    • Crossraguel


      The video evokes the same sentiments as watching an elderly relative attempting some modern dance routine at a wedding: invariably cringeworthy and laughing at, not with. Of course uncle/dad/third cousin are left to feel like a jolly good sport for letting their hair down and engaging in such frivolity, whereas they are more ridiculed and pitied.

      Being honest, does this surprise us – that the generation of bishops following the council retain this mindset? Certainly for me it smacks of the school ‘liturgies’ (Michael Davies definition) I was exposed to I youth. The reason I hold a bit of hope for things improving somewhat is that we can’t be far from rock bottom and the younger clergy with no personal investment in this sort of charade will increasingly point out that the emperor is looking pretty exposed in his new garments.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm
  • gloria


    After clicking on the link you provided, I most certainly want to weep over that horrendous spectacle. The angels and saints in Heaven must weep. And Pope Francis’ address to the Brazilian Leaders – Well the only thing I can say is: PRAYER AND REPARATION for we need Divine Intervention.

    And the last thing they want to do on earth, is NOT to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    July 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm
    • Athanasius


      Yes, prayer and penance are the real weapons in this battle. Who knows under what circumstances the Pope and Bishops will be forced to make that consecration of Russia to Our Lady. We know it will happen because Our Lady has said so, and she said it will be late, but I wonder when and how it will come about. We will know soon, I think.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:01 am
      • crofterlady

        Yep, give up the old vices!

        July 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm
  • Rob (@RobBurt4M)

    Good thing it was raining because otherwise it would have resembled a beach party even more.
    Boys and bikinis
    Girls and surfboards
    Everybody’s rockin’
    Everybody’s frugin’

    July 29, 2013 at 11:58 pm
  • gruffaloslayer

    Might the Holy Father soon exchange the white cassock and pellegrina for an all-white suit? And instead of the papal zucchetto he could wear a white baseball cap. That would look really groovy. And he could accessorize his tie and his new hat with his coat of arms, in the same way Pope Benedict XVI emblazoned his fascia with his.

    This is the kind of fresh look that the poor and humble Catholic Church of the 21st Century needs to embrace if millions of young people are going to convert to the true faith.

    July 30, 2013 at 2:40 am
    • Athanasius


      Without meaning to be disrespectful to Pope Francis, I truly believe he would dress exactly as you describe if the people requested it of him. His is a really frightening Pontificate for orthodox Catholics.

      July 30, 2013 at 9:54 am
  • editor

    This caught my eye just now – plastic cups to distribute the Precious Blood at World Youth Day: whatever next?

    August 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm
  • cbucket

    Communion in a plastic cup at world youth day. Lord have mercy …

    Although, according to one of the posters (search for ‘Will D’ in link below) they were using tupperware containers as ciboria in Denver at WYD twenty years ago.

    I think the bit that scares me the most is the girl texting on her phone (just to the left of the man holding the plastic cup (ciboria ?). My guess is that she does not believe in the real presence. 🙁

    August 8, 2013 at 10:03 am
  • editor


    Thank you for those links. Truly appalling. I wonder what responses we’d get if we asked any of those young people to explain to us what they believe about Holy Communion.

    August 8, 2013 at 11:27 am
  • editor

    I was spoilt for choice, not knowing whether to post the following article on this thread or the Fatima (Pope to consecrate the world) thread so decided to post it on both. For the record:

    Is This For Real?

    by Christopher A. Ferrara
    August 1, 2013

    Item: The mass media were delighted to report that immediately after the papal Mass on Copacabana beach during the just-completed papal trip to Brazil, thousands of women stripped down to their bikinis and plunged into the ocean for a post-Mass frolic in the surf. The reporter whose commentary is linked to above described the Mass as “a great beach party” for three million people.

    Item: The day before the papal Mass on the beach, during a “liturgical” rehearsal, several hundred bishops made fools of themselves by attempting to twirl about and wave their arms in time to rock music, led by an obnoxious lay cheerleader who bellowed at them through a microphone as if he were conducting an episcopal aerobics class.

    Item: Upon his return to Rome from Brazil, Pope Francis went to a famed Marian altar at Saint Mary Major and left upon it as gifts, not flowers or a religious relic, but a World Youth Day souvenir beach ball and sports jersey. The beach ball kept rolling off the altar, so the Pope used the sports shirt to hold it in place.

    Is this for real? What has become of Holy Church? Sister Lucia provided the answer in two words: “diabolical disorientation.” No, it is not that the Pope and the bishops are literal agents of the devil. Rather, as predicted in the Third Secret — the part we have yet to see, but to which former Pope Benedict clearly alluded on May 13, 2010 — the devil has provoked unprecedented confusion in the Church since the Second Vatican Council, and this has led to a loss of the sense of what the Church really is: the spotless Bride of Christ, who is in the world but never of it.

    It was not any “Fatimite,” but Pope Paul VI, who declared in 1972 that “the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God: there is doubt, uncertainty, problems, unrest. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it has entered through the windows which were meant to have been opened to the light. This state of uncertainty reigns even in the Church…. We will confide Our thoughts to you: there has been interference from an adverse power: his name is the devil…” (Paul VI, Insegnamenti, Ed. Vaticana, Vol. X, 1972, p. 707.)

    It is no use blinding ourselves to reality: we are indeed witnessing what Paul VI himself saw after his “reforms” were introduced: diabolical interference in the life of the Church, the consequent decline of the Church since Vatican II, and thus the decline of the world at large along with her.

    This is what the Third Secret foretells; and the culmination of that dire prophecy is what former Pope Benedict described three years ago: “future realities of the Church, which are little by little developing and revealing themselves.” Little by little developing and revealing themselves — not consigned to the past, as Cardinal Bertone would have us believe.

    And the worst is yet to come — unless the Pope finally does what the Virgin of Fatima requested of him and the bishops. But while ecclesial follies of the past fifty years go on and on, Russia still awaits her consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. See Fatima website

    August 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm
  • Marcantonio Colonna

    Yes, dear editor, the ball and the sportshirt he placed in the chapel salus populi romani in the basilica of santa maria maggiore. I do not know of the other things.

    August 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm

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