Interested in seeing what sort of news there was about World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain this year, I Googled “Pope visits Spain” to see what came up. What surprised me was not the many articles on World Youth Day and his goals of inspiring the masses, but the several articles that came up detailing him being protested.
I’ve always found it interesting how bad news makes for the most popular stories, and it seems ever more likely that bad news regarding the Catholic Church is bound to get far more press than good news. These articles ignore the nearly 1 million attendees at World Youth Day while promoting the cause of the roughly 1,000 protesters whose range of complaints stretch from the Church’s stance on gay marriage to the Pope’s perceived culpability in sexual abuse scandals.
More loathsome than the emphasis on protests are the comments from readers that follow the articles. Any Catholic, and indeed any reasonable Christian, would feel at least a little nauseated after reading some of the vitriol posted about the Church, the Pope, or Christians in general. To summarize their general flavor, the Catholic Church, the Pope, and indeed all Catholics are nitwits, pedophiles, and intolerant hateful bigots. I was about to get angry about all this, and then I realized something.
This is what is supposed to happen. The hate, the disgust, the bad media—these only prove that we are doing something right. Christ even told us, in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”
The poor reaction of the world to our Church only highlights the need to be ever more present with our faith. And what better way to be present in the world (without being “of” the world), especially as the younger generation continuing the faith, than to participate in an event like World Youth Day? What is more evident today of the strength of our Church than a mass of young people coming together bearing rosaries, scapulars, bibles, prayer books, and catechisms. And most importantly, bearing a common prayer of thanksgiving for the faith we’ve been given and for the most holy sacrifice our Lord made for us so that we might be able to stand together, cleansed of sin, and pray for the transformation of those protesters whose hearts have been hardened to Christ’s love.