The WYD Journey – Day 9

After yesterday’s experience of catechesis, we decided to go somewhere different today, and after much map searching (and reference to Google Maps) we found what we hoped would be a smaller and more intimate venue. The bonus was that it was also closer…which meant we got there in time to ensure ourselves good seating. Unfortunately, that was about the only good thing about the new venue.

Again, we had a very enthusiastic American nun as our MC/lead singer, and while she was certainly in a different category than the American nuns we encountered yesterday, there’s still something about the American evangelical form of Catholicism that doesn’t sit well with me. Unfortunately I can’t comment about anything she – or the Ugandan bishop who lead our catechesis input – said because I couldn’t hear them. The sound system in the venue was not working, and the natural acoustics didn’t lend itself to the venue being used without amplification. So tomorrow we’ll go searching for another venue that hopefully might allow us to gain some value from the one remaining catechesis session.

After escaping from the catechesis session this morning we made our way to the park at Retiro and took up a position that will allow us to see the Pope tonight as he begins his official welcome ceremony. We’re jealously guarding the position against other latecomers, making sure that we maintain our ability to see the Pope. If we don’t we might as well return to our residences now. It was a beautiful day to be sitting in the park, particularly sitting as we were under the shade of trees out of the direct sun. Now we wait, patiently, for the official welcome to His Holiness to take place.

And as we expected, we had to ‘fight’ to keep our premium spot for viewing the Pope’s official welcoming ceremony. We had sat in the same spot for close to eight hours, enjoying the atmosphere as it built up across the afternoon, yet the ‘latecomers’ seem to think that they can swoop in at the last moment, and attempt to stand in front of us with impunity. Well, we certainly had news for them. We managed to maintain our position, and even though we were crowded out by people in front and below us, we all managed to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father as he arrived. As far as I was concerned, the eight hours were well worth it.

I was reflecting as we travelled home though, and have to confess to be slightly perturbed by the general behaviour of the crowd (including myself) in the interval immediately before the Pope’s arrival, and during the visit. Common courtesy – and Christian charity – seemed to go out the window in an effort to see the Pope. It smacked of a personality cult, a “worshipping” of the Papacy, a misdirection of our affection away from Jesus, the Son of God, and towards, well, a man. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for the Papacy, and its current incumbent, but I profess a faith in Jesus Christ, not in a Pope. Perhaps we, as Catholics, need to remember where our priorities ought to lie.