MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI closed the religious ceremonies of World Youth Day on Sunday with a giant Mass in which he told young people to “swim against the tide” and abide by the principles of the Catholic Church despite broader changes in society. [The Pope is mindful of the worldwide hate towards Catholicism, the conservative and traditional values She professes and lived by is what these secular and Modernist world hates. It does not mean that the whole world has gone ga-ga for abortion, contraception, divorce and same-sex marriage that we just jump into the bandwagon.]
The culmination of World Youth Day — a six-day event that drew more than one million pilgrims to Madrid — took place at an air base on the outskirts of the city.
Though the event was marred last week by clashes between the police and protesters condemning its cost, the huge and ebullient welcome for the pope provided a powerful demonstration of his influence, even at a time when church attendance has been dwindling in Roman Catholic countries like Spain.[The rabid and noisy anti-Catholics are just few but they are rabid and noisy and we have to make a bolder stand against them by witnessing through our lives.]
At the end of Sunday’s Mass, the pope announced that the next such event would be in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. Until then, he told those at the service, in Portuguese, that they “will be swimming against the tide in a society with a relativistic culture, which wishes neither to seek nor hold on to the truth.”
While about 70 percent of Spain’s residents consider themselves to be Catholics, the percentage attending church has fallen sharply, and the number of civil weddings overtook religious ones in 2009.
Still, the economic downturn has shown the importance of religious charities, at a time when the government has imposed severe austerity cuts to help resolve its debt problems. About 800,000 people in Spain fell into poverty from 2007 to 2010, according to a report published last month by Cáritas, a Catholic charity.
Besides being an opportunity for the Catholic Church to strengthen its support, the event should be seen as a call for “greater social engagement,” said Cristóbal Fones, a priest and musician visiting from Chile.
Still, most of the teenagers, dressed in the event’s official yellow T-shirt and waving their national flags, said the highlight had been seeing the pope. “I can’t think of a happier day in my life,” said Roberto Avalos, a 17-year-old who was among a large contingent from Ecuador.
Last week, the downtown square Puerta del Sol was the scene of small but violent clashes between the police and protesters who objected to the cost of the visit, as well as the blurring of lines between a Catholic celebration and the secularism that is enshrined in the Spanish Constitution. On Friday, the Spanish Interior Ministry ordered an investigation into whether the police had used excessive force against the protesters.
Organizers have insisted that the event’s budget of about $72 million was covered by registration fees and corporate sponsors. The government and the regional authorities of Madrid also forecast that the event would help a Spanish economy that has been severely hit by the global financial crisis.
The Holy Father is fulfilling what he said on his message for the World Youth Day. "As the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I too want to confirm you in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32)"
You can read the Pope's homily here.
Remember folks...Christ reminded us that we are like sheep among wolves.