Journalists' final verdict on World Youth Day: "Extraordinary"
An organizational disaster but a unique, joyous event
Even for jaded journalists World Youth Day came as a surprise. The organisation was appalling. Public transport collapsed. The ATMs ran out of money. The field where the young people were supposed to sleep overnight and attend Mass on Sunday turned into a quagmire after heavy rain. Even the mayor of Rio de Janeiro admitted that the city had scored “closer to zero than ten”.
The three million young people who gathered on Rio’s famous Copacabana beach were wet, crowded, sleepless, and standing in queues for foetid portable toilets.
But there were few complaints. Instead, the atmosphere was upbeat and cheerful. The Pope, the new Pope, the first Latin American Pope, was there. It was a time of joy.
“After more than 25 years of covering wars, drug trafficking, riots, protests, coup d’états and, yes, five Papal tours in Latin America, I have to admit that I am not very easy to impress,” wrote Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera’s Latin American editor. “But without hesitation, I confess that the scene on Copacabana Beach on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday was extraordinary.”
Sometimes the media misses a story which is right under their noses. If the Pope can draw three million young people from all over the world to an event like this, is Christianity really in its twilight years? Will the next generation really be godless and secular?
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