Well, I had a great time at World Youth Day. There were 1.7 million pilgrims signed up (and active at events through the week like catechesis and Stations of the Cross) and we had at least a million more than that at the Mass last Sunday with the Holy Father. The week went entirely too quickly and the young people in my group enjoyed themselves a lot. We are from a largely (90%) Protestant area, so they reveled in being in a Catholic country with a million+ Catholics their age (instead of about one or two people in their grade like in their high schools).
Most of the participants were young people from 15-25 years of age with chaperons (like me). They went to catechesis for three days during the week to sites based on language group (we went to an English site) where bishops would talk to the groups and answer questions and have Mass. We were extremely lucky—we got Archbishop Dolan one day and good bishops the other days, too. I, personally, didn’t get to hear much because I was hearing confessions the whole time until Mass started (which I got to concelebrate, which is nice).
As to any protests, it was similar to the March for Life in D.C. every year—hundreds of thousands of participants and so few protesters that you must look for them to find ‘em. Seriously. Apparently 2 or 3 were protesting outside our catechesis site (“bad pope” or something equally stupid), and apparently there were more downtown for a couple of hours one day. I am less that impressed because I get the impression that Spaniards will protest about anything and do so all the time. The ‘clashes’ were mostly some fired up locals (on both sides) and foreign pilgrims praying that got caught up. I only saw the objectionable stuff on TV and absolutely nothing in person—and I went to the Stations and the Mass with the Pope. I was an active leader and we participated and they weren’t really anywhere to be found.
Now, the event itself was nice, but poorly organized. They didn’t have nearly enough toilets at the large events and tons of places were shut down throughout town (it’s the time when the people of Madrid take their vacation and leave town because it’s pretty nasty with the heat and humidity). They didn’t have enough water last Saturday and Sunday and they didn’t listen to anyone when they planned things 2 years ago. But, it went all right.
It was poorly done compared to other World Youth Days, but the essentials were there—tons of Catholic young people excited about their faith and the Holy Father.
Interesting, no? Because the global media seemed to really ignore the event, except to show protestors. And HRE confirms that the protests were extremely inconsequential; in fact, a few here or there out of a million is a fraction of a smidge of not even one percent. Way to stay objective, media! “Hey, we don’t editorialize, we merely edit out anything that doesn’t agree with our agenda.”