Tuesday, August 16, 2011
It's World Youth day or JMJ in Madrid. Odd sort of day as the inaugral mass is this evening and the closing mass is on Sunday. I should have a day's holiday that long. The Pope is due to fly in on Thursday.
When we were up in Teruel the other day there were groups of Scouts in the local supermarket sporting World Youth Day T shirts. In Murcia about a month ago I bought a lottery ticket to win a ham from some young person raising money to get themselves to JMJ Madrid. Today we were picking someone up from Alicante airport and the arrivals area was more crowded than usual because of a group of happy, singing, banner waving Christians. They were waiting to welcome people. Taking my information from the back of someone's T shirt , which read, Camino Neocatecumenal Alicante Albacete or, in English The Neocatcechumenal Way, and applying a bit of "elementary my dear Watson" I deduced that this grouping, which is dedicated to deepening the Catholic experience of people already committed to that Church, was welcoming other groups of The Way from all around the World and then they'd be off to Madrid to see the Pope.
You may get the idea or you may already think that Spain is a pretty Catholic country, especially with all this toing and froing of pilgrims, but a survey a couple of days ago found that whilst nearly 73% of Spaniards still consider themselves Catholic only 13% get along to mass on the majority of Sundays. Only 7% of young people under 35 take communion regularly. And, for the first time this year there were more civil than Church weddings in Spain.