Sydney has never seen anything like it since the Olympics. Not even that event, however, could match the spectacle of a papal â€˜boatacadeâ€™ gliding past the bridge and the opera house to deliver Pope Benedict into the cheering embrace of 200,000 young people from around the world.
The Popeâ€™s arrival at World Youth Day had a theatrical quality worthy of the media world in which todayâ€™s young people live. By contrast, his message to them was delivered in a self-effacing, direct manner, making clear that the Pope refuses to cast himself as a rock star; he is a teacher and he set about teaching. The young listened with great respect, some closing their eyes, concentrating deeply on his words. He commended to them the care of the planet that he had flown over, inviting them to live by the values of truth, beauty and goodness as the way to heal the scars not only of our planet but also of our souls. Cries of delight erupted as the Pope concluded by greeting the different language groups. The final singing of the World Youth Day anthem, Receive the Power of the Holy Spirit, had the crowd in full voice, hands lifted high and swaying gently in time with the simple alleluia of the chorus, all nationalities united in one word and one gesture.
You would have to be hard hearted not to be moved by so many young people singing their hearts out affirming their acceptance of the Popeâ€™s demanding invitation to follow Christ. Yet hard hearted is exactly the quality that has characterised the Australian media coverage leading up to the event. The cityâ€™s leading daily, the Sydney Morning Herald, has for weeks been pursuing an agenda highlighting the civic disruption, the cost to the taxpayer and a whole host of local concerns summed up in the headline â€˜The Stations of the Very Cross.â€™ In parallel, the national TV channel, ABC, led a concerted attack on Cardinal Pell, with â€˜Latelineâ€™ (think Newsnight) running negative stories about his alleged mishandling of cases of clerical abuse. All the perpetrators had gone to jail but the Cardinal was still in the firing line from the victims or their families. Insensitive remarks by church spokesmen prolonged the agony. This coverage had become so negative by the weekend before the Popeâ€™s arrival, that The Australian ran a leading article saying that the Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC were guilty of â€˜squalid myopiaâ€™, urging Australians to be proud of hosting WYD in Sydney. Surprisingly, the BBC correspondent in Australia appears to be following the ABC agenda, so BBC reports are heavily weighted towards the clerical abuse agenda. Stunning images of joyful young people lining Sydney harbour were accompanied by a commentary on clerical abuse.
The Sydneysiders themselves have greeted the young with warmth and delight, so eventually the Sydney Morning Herald has run feel good headlines. But the experience of those of us simultaneously watching the events and the media is not just how different the reports are to the event. Rather, I am left with a feeling that while the young are full of energetic hope, bringing soul to one of the worldâ€™s great cities, the Australian hierarchy is struggling to cope with its detractors. The Pope will sail through this but how will the local church be when the Pope and the pilgrims have left? The youth will have been deeply affirmed in their faith, for sure, and I pray that the same will be true for the Australian Catholic Church.
The media in Australia, hate what they cannot control and influence. Media, the world over, know the press gives power. That is why the rich own papers and T.V stations. The press lose control when the faityhful gather at events like WYD. They press don’t set the adenda, and so they attack.
Generally the media is quite anti-Christianity, particularlyÂ Catholics or Evangelicals. I don’t know if its secular institutional bias or market forces: sex sells! I mean who cares about the thousands in Burma, Zimbabwe or Iraq surviving on church provision? And true to form, the world-wide media have ignored thisÂ WYD event. Google, had one, only one entry on this event, and it led with the BBC lead line about clerical abuse.
Seems no one wants to hear “good news” these days. Maybe because the “Good News” is counter-cultural.
6 thoughts on “World Youth Day, Sydney”
You are doing a very good job, keeping the site as up to date as possible.Actually i wanted some of these pics .Thanks a lot. good work keep it up. And did the media give that kind of response? Ho…
We’ve found a photograph on your website showing Pope Benedict inspecting an honour guard at Government House in Sydney during World Youth Day.
The Historic Houses Trust manages Governement House (one of 13 historic properties under our umbrella) and we would like to reproduce the photograph in our Annual Report.
Are you able to supply a high resolution digital scan @ 300dpi and are you happy to give permission for this use?
We’re working to a tight deadline, so I’d appreciate a reply as soon as possible.
Many thanks, and kind regards
Project Officer – Rights and Permissions
Exhibitions and Publications Unit
Historic Houses Trust of NSW
I am only happy to give you the permission for using that pic in your annual report. Plz include a link back to my home page https://www.turnbacktogod.com beside it, if you can.
I am sorry i dont have a high resolution version of the pic with me now.
May God Bless You and the Trust
Georgy N Joseph
Thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately, we can’t use the image without a high res scan as it won’t reproduce to a good enough standard for print.
All the best
Hi, I am making up a flyer for a Youth 2000 Retreat that we will have here at St. John Neumann Oct. 22-24. THe template they sent me had a picture and quote from Pope John Paul. I would like to update it by putting a picture of Pope Benedict and a quote from World Youth Day 2010. I would appreciate your permission to put one of the pctures from your website of Pope Benedict. I was thhinking of using the one where he is kind of close up and waving or one where he is praying. Thank you for your consideration. Pax Christi,
Cherie Smith, Pastoral Associate, St. John Neumann, Columbia, SC
Yes, You can use images from TBTG website for the flyer you are preparing. May the Almighty Lord bless you to make it the best one.
Georgy N Joseph