Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 25, 2008
WYD sounds wake-up call to Australia
Pope Benedict calls for a spiritual, social change in secular society
By ANTHONY BARICH
Bishop Anthony Fisher
"He's provided us with a program for the spiritual and social renewal of our country and has offered young people the encouragement and inspiration to do that," Fisher said.
"We would hope that there's going to be a new life and energy in every corner of the Church, especially youth ministry, which will obviously be bigger and better as a result of World Youth Day."
Fisher acknowledged Pope Benedict's concern for how deeply secularization has set into Australia.
"When (the pope) is talking about things like apathy and relativism, they're commonplace in the Western world, but certainly I think he had Australia in mind, " Fisher said.
"People are at times apathetic about key issues in the world, and Australians in particular are very comfortable - we've got a pretty good life.
"But the risk is that if we don't then ask the bigger questions . . . what it's all for, and what about the poor people of the world who don't have the affluence we have, even in our own community?"
The challenge was clearly set out by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who told more than 1,000 youths at a Theology on Tap session about the futility of living a double life - going to Mass on Sunday but not giving public witness to the faith.
"We can't live a halfway Christianity," he said. "Every double life will inevitably self-destruct. Being a Christian is who you are - period.
"And being a Christian means your life has a mission. It means striving every day to become more like Jesus in your thoughts and actions."
World Youth Day has been the seed of many vocations, be it to married, religious or single life. Amid the hype and noise of the multicultural week, bishops and lay leaders alike warned pilgrims that unless they took time for silent meditation and prayer, the fruits of World Youth Day might be lost.
Fisher said he felt optimistic after World Youth Day.
"We often talk of Australia being a secular country, as if the view that religion has to be privatized or abolished has won," he said.
"We know in fact that most people still say, when asked, that they believe in God and they pray sometimes and say they are Christians. So Australia isn't as agnostic as it's portrayed," he said.
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