They Made My Daughter Cry at World Youth Day

My daughter walked the Camino then attended World Youth Day. One experience was transformative, and the other was distressing.

My daughter Lucy walked 100 kilometers on the Camino a few weeks ago. The experience was transformative. Every picture she sent back was joyful—purely joyful. I have a photo of her dancing on the Camino that makes me tear up every time I look at it.

Her group was comprised of about 100 girls from the United States under the watchful eye of Opus Dei Numeraries. It wasn’t just a walk but a retreat, something she will never forget. There was a bit of patriotic fervor. Our girls occasionally waved American flags and chanted, “USA, USA!” You’d think, in anti-American Europe, this would not go down so well. Not at all. They frequently got big smiles, return chants, and horn honks. Maybe not from the French.

Her group went on to Fatima, where they hobbled on their knees, on their bloody knees.

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And then they went to World Youth Day in Lisbon.

She says she loved both experiences, but she loved the Camino more. The Camino was a retreat; it was even mystical. World Youth Day, well, less so.

The lowlight at World Youth Day was the belly-shirted dancers who danced to robot techno music in front of the pope. My daughter was genuinely appalled at that sight. 

And then came the all-night vigil. Lucy looked forward to hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament and then maybe a few hours of sleep. She had it all planned out. And then, instead of all-night adoration, they brought out the Blessed Sacrament and then took Him away after a mere thirty minutes. Lucy cried. One of the Numeraries had to comfort her. Indeed, by that time, emotions were raw from lack of sleep and fatigue from walking so far. But she was well and truly crushed that they took away the Blessed Sacrament. Why? she asked. Why would they do that?

And then, a truly appalling thing happened; they replaced the Blessed Sacrament with a propaganda documentary on “climate change.” Yes, climate change. Loud, blaring, left-wing propaganda. My daughter and others were appalled. And what a missed opportunity to have the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the company of more than a million kids all night long. Against the blaring of the propaganda, she fell asleep but was awakened a few hours later by a DJ priest spinning records. Okay, she liked the DJ priest. 

We have seen reports of how the Blessed Sacrament was mishandled at World Youth Day, practically sacrilegiously. A priest I know says, “It is really not possible to have a reverent Mass for a million people.”

A colleague of mine took a New Jersey youth group to Lisbon, and he was struck by the general lack of respect he saw among the young people. It was clear there was no effort to engender an atmosphere of reverence. Like the mishandling of the Blessed Sacrament, this is on whoever organized it. There could have been a respectful atmosphere if the organizers had wanted it and encouraged it. It seems they didn’t. My daughter said they seemed to want a Catholic rave. There could have been a respectful atmosphere if the organizers had wanted it and encouraged it. It seems they didn’t. My daughter said they seemed to want a Catholic rave.Tweet This

My daughter said of the belly-shirted robot dancers, “This is not what the youth want. This does not properly represent the youth to the pope.” It was like somebody’s uncle trying to be hip and with-it for the kids. It is just embarrassing for everyone involved.

My colleague said the best World Youth Day he attended was in Cologne, Germany, where Benedict XVI presided, and after he left, they really had all-night adoration with a million kids. He said it was amazing.

Why do these people have such little respect for young people? Do they think kids do not want more than pablum?

We worry, of course, that the upcoming Synod is being organized—if not by the exact same people—with the exact same ethos. You see the logo of the Synod and how childish it all seems; how achingly hip your uncle is trying to be for the kids, wearing mutton chops and bell bottoms, getting all groovy, man.

I echo those who say this smells quite a bit like the “felt banners and guitars” that we thought had died out a few decades ago. It is almost as if they do not believe in the Real Presence or are embarrassed by the Real Presence and other smelly practices that once enchanted our Faith and the faithful.

My daughter had a transformational trip to Europe to walk the Camino, and she still came away from World Youth Day only slightly bruised but still on fire for the Faith. The midwits who organized it could not quench this fire, try as they might.

[Image: Lucy Ruse and friends at the Camino’s end]

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