by Edd Doerr
(See my "The Pain in Spain", August 16)
At the close of his 4-day trip to Madrid, Pope Benny told the million-plus youth attending the World Youth Day affair to "swim against the tide" and to "resist secularism", all of which suggests that secularism is winning in Europe. In reporting on the matter on 8/22 the NY Times noted that "the number of civil weddings [in Spain] overtook religious ones in 2009." This in a country in which 70% of the population identify as Catholics but fewer than 10% attend services.
The 8/22 Washington Times (ultraconservative; Moonie-owned) reported that the over one million "pilgrims" from "nearly 200 countries" paid a "registration fee" to attend the WYD of $110 to $300, depending on "their country of origin, housing and meals". Note that "The city provided housing for pilgrims by opening public schools and youth centers that usually are closed in August."
Question: If over one million youth paid at least $110 each to register and had free boarding, who gets the at least $11 million in fees? I was in Colombia in 1968 when Pope Paul was there for a "Eucharistic Congress" at which one million "pilgrims" were expected. For many reasons very few showed up, which cost restaurants and hotels a bundle. The "pilgrims' were expected to pay the church for lodging, though Bogota's residents were expected to provide lodging free. Again, somebody expected to make a haul.
Many Spaniards -- of all persuasions -- would like to know who picks up what bills and who walks away with a haul.