World Youth Day called successful, but “dangerously chaotic”

A constant feature of last week’s World Youth Day was that events were oversubscribed and completely chaotic. I don’t want to be critical of World Youth Day as I wholeheartedly support this Pope and the principle behind the event. But our capacity for joy was continuously stifled by the shambolic organisation.

Introducing the word “queue” into the World Youth Day vernacular and then directing the volunteers to enforce this principle would, for instance, have avoided the carnage at the portaloos on the morning of the papal Mass. Furthermore, if enough loos had been provided the chaos that emerged would have been less likely and pilgrims would have been more inclined to drink water in the baking heat, as opposed to sitting crossed-legged, opting for dehydration and paralysis rather than rugby-tackling their way through the hopping crowds.

What was most appalling was the fiasco surrounding the papal Mass at Cuatro Vientos airfield on Sunday morning. I was one among an estimated 200,000 Catholics who were turned away. Although many young people carried pilgrim passes and were allocated an area in advance, they found there was no way of making the event they had so looked forward to, despite arriving at the crack of dawn that morning or camping outside overnight.

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Editor’s note: Kind of makes you wonder what Judgment Day will be like, with an assemblage of 20 billion or more.

1 Comment

  1. I agree. It was unfortunate that many of us were turned away after walking the long trek in the 100* F temperatures with no water stations or restrooms. We found “no place at the inn” which is unfortunate when everyone registers in advance so there wasn’t any excuse for not planning ahead. When we asked the Police and volunteers, we were continually told, “No se!” and given no information. We found ourselves in the outer camping area without food since it was distributed inside. They finally relented and allowed us to use our coupons for a hotdog and soda which was better than starving, but not the bag meals handed out to those in our assigned areas.
    It is just disappointing that they wouldn’t provide any answers and the police acted as if we were a threat when all we only wanted to know was whether or not we would be able to get in later and why they hadn’t planned for enough space since we were registered to an assigned area.
    I have led trips to both Germany and Australia and this was the most chaotic disorganized mess I’ve ever witnessed. This isn’t the Pope’s fault, but Spain’s poor planning and refusal to provide adequate information. It also isn’t the fault of the many volunteers who were there to serve. It was a problem from the very top down.


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