I have posted here and on Ninglun’s Specials a few items already about some of the travails of the Catholic Church, and about World Youth Day, but I also said a while back that I didn’t intend to rain too much on their parade. I still am prepared to see the positives in the event, and this story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald really is worth noting.
POPE Benedict XVI may have raised the ire of the Muslim world almost two years ago when he invoked a harsh medieval description of Islam during a speech in Germany, but for almost 300 Catholic pilgrims, an Islamic school will be home during World Youth Day.
“Pope Benedict clarified his comments on Islam,” said Pinad Elahmed, a teacher in charge of inter-religious activities at Malek Fahd school in Greenacre. “Anyway, no one here even thought of it when we decided to offer hospitality to the pilgrims.
“We are Muslims but we are also very committed Australians and that means living in a multicultural, multi-faith country. We want to be a role model of generosity for all Muslims. “This is not unusual. After all, the prophet himself opened his house to Christians.”
The 281 pilgrims will bunk down in the gymnasium and several classrooms. “They will basically have the run of the place,” Ms Elahmed said.
Yes, one could be cynical: but why should we be in this case? Why not just welcome such a development?
Also of interest is this overview of religious belief in Australia.
…Forty-four per cent of Australians considered themselves religious but said religion did not play a central role in their lives, a third said they did not believe in a divine power or in life after death. Half the Australians surveyed considered religion the least important when compared with family, partners, work and career, leisure time and politics.
Worldwide, the young are more religious than reputed, with only 13 per cent having no appreciation for God or faith in general, so expressions of faith during World Youth Day should come as no surprise.
Australians had a largely positive perception of God. Most thought of God as a loving, kind-hearted being and there was a strong religious vitality among the nation’s youth, with one in five considered to be deeply religious, the survey found. This suggested that the Pope’s mission to rejuvenate the Catholic faith in Australia may fall on fertile ground.
“Seventy-two per cent of Australia’s young adults believe in God or a divine power and/or a life after death – this is even more than in the over-60 age group,” said the project’s leader, Dr Martin Rieger. “Almost half of those under 30 said that they partake in prayer on a more or less regular basis and the same proportion see God as a personal being. These figures clearly refute the assumption that religious belief is dwindling.”
Census results show Mass attendance is continuing to fall. The percentage of Catholics attending Mass during a typical weekend dropped to just under 14 per cent in 2006, compared with 18 per cent in 1996. Rates of Mass attendance among young people are now thought to be less than 10 per cent. On average, Mass attenders are older, better educated and more likely to be female, married and born overseas…