Since Pope John Paul II launched World Youth Day 22 years ago, it has become the Olympic Games of world religion, the largest and most complex spiritual event held on a recurring basis across the globe. One part worship and one part Woodstock, the youth oriented festival is designed to offer a rocking rebuttal to impressions that Catholicism is sliding toward oblivion.
World Youth Day does not lack for critics. Some wags have compared it to the Nuremberg rallies, arguing that it fosters a cult of personality around a great leader, drowning out any possible criticism, however legitimate, in a carefully choreographed orgy of adulation. Others say there is no hard data to suggest that World Youth Days have much long term impact, once the immediate sensation has faded. - John Allen, Sydney Morning Herald (click below for full article)