WYD - It Begins

World Youth Day finally kicks off today. Your opinion on the issue is apparently based on what newspaper you read. The Australian is fervently behind the event, and taking potshots at the SMH for knocking it. (NewsLtd, publisher of The Australian, is a major WYD sponsor, but that's probably just a coincidence)

I do wonder how Australia ended up hosting the thing. We have to be amongst the least religious nations on Earth. Apparently two thirds of people still claim to be Christian. But that's because people refer to themselves as Christian on the Census more from habit than faith - the donkey vote of religions.

It is a terrifying thing to witness in action. I've just returned from a walk around the CBD, where I was almost anhilated by a group of hundreds of chanting, banner waving Catholics walking in the other direction (could this be divine retribution?). The pilgrims are everywhere, thousands of them in their bright jackets and national flags, generally making life jolly difficult for those of us going about our business. And they're all so darn happy and full of energy. Many of them were at St Mary's Cathedral midnight for the last countdown, will march all day today, attend the welcome mass, Stations of the Cross, pilgrimage walk, the overnight vigil and final mass; all this and they're sleeping in school halls...I think I can see how this is happening. I had religious fervour once. A guy named Electron was selling it on Oxford Street for $50 a hit.

I haven't been arrested yet, which is a relief. It will be a bigger relief when it's all over. It's hard now to wonder, if these pilgrims wanted to do the truly compassionate, Christian thing, why they didn't stay home and give the money they spent on the trip to the poor. I'm sure that's what Jesus would have done.