...Pope Francis is in Rio with the great crowds for World Youth Day. You can get some interesting snippets of background on WYD here...
I am sure there will be some chaos and some big admin. problems at WYD in Rio, but the whole WYD event has over the past couple of decades been such a glorious celebration of faith and such a boost for the Church, and it has grown and grown and grown...the joy and goodwill of the young people is so attractive - literally, it attracts, it makes people see that this is what being a Christian can mean.
It is not merely that we as Christians live as many people once did - with a sense that life has a meaning and a hope and a purpose. It is not just that we are saying "We are what you once were - what you once believed, we still believe and love and cherish". It is much more than that: it is an affirmation of eternal truths, a sense of looking forward, of offering a message that holds the key to the future.
Watching the scenes in Rio brought back memories of Madrid a couple of years ago. The vast crowds, the dreadful heat, the dramatic thunderclaps and great zigzags of lightning, the calm presence of dear Papa Benedict amid the storm, the scent of the grass as it soaked up the rain, and the beauty of young voices, over a million of them, singing together....this summer, some of the young men who were with the group with which I travelled to Madrid were ordained as priests for the diocese of Southwark. Deo gratias.
The next World Youth Day may be in Poland. In the more distant future...London?