Sunday, 20 July 2008

A miracle on World Youth Day

When Benedict XVI addressed an inner-Sydney congregation on Friday night, he spoke against the worship of the “false gods” of “material possessions, possessive love, or power.” And he asked: “How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can? But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death.”

And according to a report in The Weekend Australian, the hundreds of thousands of Catholic pilgrims have been a major economic disappointment: “The deathly retail silence contrasts with optimistic predictions of a ‘bumper week’ of trade by the state Government and the local chambers of commerce. A jewellery shop reported one sale in the week: a cross. New South Wales Business Chamber chief executive Kevin MacDonald had predicted a $231 million boost for business, or $1155 per expected visitor. But traders reported pilgrims unwilling to spend, even haggling over the price of one banana. Clothing store John Serafino said the Pope’s visit was ‘a disaster’.”

Here in Australia, talk about the economy tends to be the only talk that is taken seriously; the sound of the cash register is the only sound we really respond to. Our public life revolves around the assumption that everything is finally reducible to economic considerations. So thanks be to God for the strange miracle of a “deathly retail silence” in Sydney this week.

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