MUST READ: Young person’s account of harassment and violence at WYD

Nolite mirari fratres si odit vos mundus.

Wonder not, brethren, if the world hate you.

1 John 3:13

In Madrid during WYD the were no lack of twisted, benighted wing-nut protesters harrassing the pilgrims and young people.

One of the readers here has a daughter who was in the midst of the unrest the protesters caused.  She wrote to me about her daughter’s description of what happened.  I asked her permission, and through her her daughter’s to post the young lady’s account here, which I believe was posted on her Facebook page.  I am anonymizing it for now.

The the reader and/or her daughter want to identified, they can chime in.

You might remember the photo I posted of the protests.  The girl who wrote what follows was in one of the photos.

With some editing and my emphases:

We had been wandering Madrid all day, chillin
The boys were wearing their kilts so we got stopped for photos many times
One guy who stopped us said there was an anti Catholic protest in Sol so we went to check it out
There was this HUGE crowd of people so Seamus & Louise didn´t want to come check it out with us, they sat at a corner
We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful
So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.
A gay couple came and made out in front of us but whatever
Anyway, Dominic made us stand up because he felt threatened so we finished our Rosary standing but on the last decade, a fight broke out right next to us between the Catholics who had been standing behind us and and the protesters so some of the other Catholics lead us out of the crowd.
We went back and dropped our bags with Louise and this time Mim stayed back so it was just Me & Dominic & Greg & Billy who went back and prayed a second rosary on the side of the crowd and we got more of the same, people getting up in our faces screaming
We were met with a couple more of Juventutem but they left after we finished our second Rosary before one had an emotional breakdown.
Everyone left but the group I just mentioned above and we chanted BENEDICTO, BENEDICTO and VIVA PAPA and waved our Papal flag and so on up against the police line
Lots of people yelled at us still
Then, the police line broke and they charged at us and we had to run for our lives a little more urgently than after our Rosary
Then the riot police came out and beat the ___ out of the protesters
At least one guy lost a WYD pilgrim from his group in the crowd and a lot of medics showed up… A lot of people got lost & hurt

The cops wouldnt let us take the metro there so we went off to find a pub

That´s BASICALLY what happened

Expect more of this in the future, dear readers.

This is the cloaca secularism and even the liberal Catholic agenda brings us, allied as it is with secularism, because it undermines Christian values and therefore respect for human freedom and dignity.

Start think about this sort of thing every day.

Start getting used to the idea.

  • Jeremiah 20:11
  • Psalms 31:16
  • Psalm 44:22
  • Matthew 5:10-12
  • Matthew 5:44
  • John 15:19-21
  • Acts 5:29
  • Romans 8:35-39
  • Romans 12:2
  • 2 Corinthians 4: 8-11
  • 2 Corinthians 12:10
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:3-6
  • 2 Timothy 3:12
  • 1 Peter 3:14-15
  • 1 Peter 4:12-14, 16
  • 1 John 3:13
  • Revelation 2:10-11

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Modern Martyrs, New Evangelization, Non Nobis and Te Deum, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, TEOTWAWKI, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, Throwing a Nutty and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. smad0142 says:

    As a young man myself, I am suprised more fights didn’t occur. Praise God for the much more effective witness given by the praying of the Rosary. Also, the fact that the police were so brutal to the agitators might be a sign that Catholicism isn’t as defeated in Spain as some would think.

  2. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Yes, the police there are probably like the police here, more likely to be oriented to following rules, including the Golden Rule, and hence more likely to be Christian which would mean Catholic over there of course.

  3. RichR says:

    Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed. The next day he was reject by his nation, publicly mocked, and then murdered.

    Sometimes the only way to change people’s hearts is with prayer and non-violent resistance. These WYD participants were, in a way, non-violent resistance to the hedonism that is sweeping through Europe and the rest of the world. The world will trash you and spit on you and maybe even beat you up. If you respond with hate, it will go out all over the media that Catholics are just as bad as their persecutors. If you simply pray and turn the other cheek, the world will see the true evil for what it is. And maybe even those who are persecuting Catholics will be moved to question their own beliefs.

    Pray. Fast. Get ready for public humiliation. But don’t give take their bait. Peaceful, non-violent resistance to hedonism and secularism. Stand up for the Kingship of Christ and extent his crown rights to all the souls in this passing world.

  4. benedetta says:

    Why would someone break a police line to chase and beat up young people for praying publicly?

    While we in this country have become acclimated to the possibility of terrorism occurring within our borders in the wake and horror of 9/11, some of the European countries have been dealing with home grown terrorism for a few decades now.

    This is no different really from any other sort of terrorism which targets human beings on the basis of actual or perceived religious affiliation and attempts to silence or restrict freedom by spectacle designed to incite fear. We should take note, we should be prepared, we should pray, but we should not be afraid.

  5. Joseph-Mary says:

    There is no respect for the young people but that is no surprise for the devaluing of even unborn life has infiltrated everywhere and the murder of the pre-born children only escalates throughout the world. Perversion is coming to rule. The prince of this world is wielding a great power but it will lose in the end because Jesus is Victor. And Our Lord allows us to share in His Passion.

    But so many souls hang in the balance! It is for us to ‘stand in the gap’ with our prayers and sufferings. What these young people are experiencing is also what those who pray at abortion mills experience–hatred and vitriol stirred up by the demonic forces of evil. I have had things thrown at me and so forth.

  6. Carlos_Esteban says:


    I am a Spanish journalist, from Madrid ( and we’d like very much to translate and publish online the mail of your reader’s daughter. [Keep in mind that the young lady’s account may be on her Facebook page as well. FWIW.]

  7. Sandy says:

    It brought tears to my eyes to read this! It feels like, and is, an attack on all of us and of course on Our Lord Himself! God bless all you young people who sacrificed to be there and to endure all of this!

  8. benedetta says:

    Joseph-Mary, I agree. A society that is premised on denial of rights to the most vulnerable, most innocent, and supports the elimination of 30 million is premised on a dysfunction which proposes as acceptable violence towards God and neighbor. This traumatizes us all and many of us are not even aware of it or its effects.

    I also think that the sentiments which put the harassers up to this have been working to divide, destroy, and engender hatred towards Catholics for some time in various capacities through lies and stereotype. And this explains a lot of things I have wondered about. I think that essentially many of our leaders charged with responsibility for courageous witness to the faith may have already been harassed such that they have become frightened themselves to the core. I also see the factionalizing in the Church in a new way — perhaps many have been protected by the liberal and even dissenting Church from this onslaught, and thus preserved from harm and may now be able to realize their dignity and exercise leadership to guide people through who are just now registering it or taking it in. We should support the universal Church now more than ever and even if we have disagreed with the direction of taken in the celebration of the sacraments we should make our presence known at local level and see if there is anything we can do to support and encourage our leaders who deserve our prayers and support.

  9. RichardT says:

    Hmm, this isn’t quite what I thought when I first saw the pictures.

    I assumed that this was anti-Catholic protestors disrupting a WYD group event, but from this description it seems it was the other way round.

    Guessing that the ‘Sol’ where they say the anti-Catholic protests were taking place was Puerta del Sol, the main square in Madrid, a quick look at Google Maps shows that it was 5 or 6 miles from the Cuatro Vientos area where this weekend’s WYD events were taking place. And, from the description above, it seems the anti-Catholics were being kept well away from the WYD events by the police, so there was no risk from that crowd of any disruption to the WYD events.

    So from the description posted here, it seems a few WYD attendees deliberately went to the anti-Catholic protest, and did something that they must have known would annoy the protestors.

    Now that isn’t to say that what these WYD people did was wrong (although I’m not sure about using prayer in this way). But I don’t really feel I can blame the anti-Catholic crowd for reacting badly to what was effectively an invasion of their protest.

  10. introibo says:

    Of course this is barely being covered in the press…

  11. Andrew Mason says:

    Richard T: I see where you’re coming from, but error and disrespect must be met where it is. The protestors were ridiculing the faith and our Pope, and all the young people did was respond with prayer. The martyrs didn’t have the attitude of “well, the pagans are way over there and not bothering me so I’ll leave them be.” Rather, they went and preached and often died in witness to Christ. May God bless these young witnesses who bring the Lord to those in darkness.

  12. benedetta says:

    RichardT, And what exactly were these protesters as you call them actually protesting? The existence of Catholics. I’m sorry but when the raison d’etre for a protest is to say that one religious group should be prohibited from existence itself, then, it is not a legitimate protest, for one thing.

    But no one said that the World Youth Day pilgrims were to be confined to a corral. Why would you have it be so? The city invites them and they mean for them to visit the entire city. Further the World Youth Day attendees stay all over the city.

    And if one hears them chanting such lies then inevitably young people, being who they are, especially Catholic young people, being what they are and Who they are all about, are inevitably going to wish to say, “This is who we really are, flesh and blood.” If these protesters as you call them could not call their vile names to the faces of real Catholic people then what’s up with that. Then it was a sham to begin with, nothing legitimate and had no good proposals to offer.

    Their premise is that Catholics have no right to exist. When the Catholics showed up showing that they do exist, why would people then want to break police lines (obviously there was some idea that there would be a need to protect others in the first place if there were police lines set up?) to chase and beat them, to assault them, just for being human?

    Their premise, that Catholics have no right to exist, has zero place in enlightened society or any human civilization, and further, if it was any sort of proposal, kudos to the young people for saying, right back, thanks, but no thanks. We do exist. Whatever the hate.

    So was there a permit issued by the city of Madrid, for an anti-Catholic mob?

    And as to what you say “using prayer in this way” well, I’m not really sure what you mean. These few (and if they went deliberately obviously they accepted that they would be so outnumbered) did not show up armed. Are we not to pray? Are we not to pray for those who persecute, for our enemies? And if your answer is no, would you say that to Mohandas Gandhi? Would you say that to Rev. MLK?

  13. Fr. Andrew says:

    This story is relevant just in case anyone was wondering whether or not there are people alive today who would kill Jesus just as brutally as they did 2,000 years ago. Be ready, the time is short…

  14. RichardT says:

    benedetta, by “using prayer in this way” I meant in a way that is clearly going (even if not deliberately designed) to annoy the people you are praying for. They could have prayed for the protestors in a church without any trouble, and the prayer (as prayer) would have been just as effcacious.

    But instead they chose to go to the protesters and make the prayer an act of witness.

    That doesn’t mean that what they did was wrong. But it also means that I don’t think we can blame the protestors for their reaction (since the WYD pilgrims don’t seem to have actually been physically attacked).

    And no, the WYD pilgrims were not “confined to a corral”. Quite the opposite indeed; it seems the anti-Catholic protestors were “confined to a corral” in their own city, boxed in by a police line, to keep order.

    That group of pilgrims chose to enter the opposition’s ‘corral’. Whether that was brave, foolish or both I do not know (it’s the sort of thing I may well have done myself in my youth), but if people stick their head into a lion’s den, others shouldn’t complain when the lion roars at them.

    I was horrified when I first saw these pictures, on Fr Z’s earlier post, because I thought that they took place at a WYD event (it was described as “harassing young Catholics at WYD”). But having now read this later post, my feelings have changed.

  15. Augustin57 says:

    This is just the beginning. The real enemy isn’t the Muslims, although, they can be dangerous. The real enemy is secular humanism, brought on by the Enlightenment project, begun in France about three centuries ago, as an attempt to create a society without God. It’s being pushed heavily in the schools, especially where socialism has gotten a foothold.

    I believe that we will experience a chance for a lot of us to become blood martyrs in our time. May God give us the strength to endure and persevere to the end!

  16. skull kid says:

    This looks like a video of the incident (the guy in the blue t-shirt looks the same!):

    Marcha laica vs. JMJ 2011 (Insults and clashes in the Anti-Pope Protest. WYD 17/07/2011) W SUBTITLES

  17. RichardT says:

    Oh, and bernadette, yes, I think Gandhi was a self-promoting trouble-maker. But then I am British, so I also think that George Washington was an ungrateful oath-breaking traitor.

  18. Gail F says:

    RichardT: I’m with you. It’s a very different thing to go out of your way to find protestors and pray in front of them than it is to have them come find you. I’m not sure whether I agree with what these young people did, but at the very least you have to admit that it is not the same as their going to their WYD events and being attacked by protesters.

  19. Ezra says:

    so we went off to find a pub

    …and that, gentlemen of the press, is how you know you’re covering a Catholic event.

    I was struck by a letter published in the British Guardian. This has to be the most hilariously over-the-top thing I’ve read about WYD to date, and makes me think – once again – that the best response to some of these hysterical pearl-clutchers on the atheist/secularist side is laughter:

    … Large areas of the city centre have been closed to traffic for days and vast public spaces effectively hijacked to create a spectacle of Nuremberg Rally proportions…

    We need to know their identities and how they succeed in annexing public resources, particularly at a time of economic stringency, in the interests of engendering mass hysteria and proselytising in favour of religion to which substantial numbers of citizens are averse. When we see the massed ranks of Catholic youth, with attendant flags and “cheerful” rightwing iconography, we are reminded of travellers’ tales from 1930s Germany. You should be warned!

    Hugh Adams and Rogelio Vallejo

    In the past, I’ve been pretty ambivalent about some of what goes on in the name of WYD. The reaction to it is starting to make me re-think my position.


    Don’t be so wet. Christ was being blasphemed, the Holy Father insulted, and all manner of freakery promoted. These young Catholics had the courage to make a stand for truth and decency in the midst of all that. 1 Corinthians 15:25 isn’t limited to particular suburbs or neighborhoods.

  20. Lori Pieper says:

    But it also means that I don’t think we can blame the protestors for their reaction (since the WYD pilgrims don’t seem to have actually been physically attacked).

    I don’t know what’s considered proper where you live, Richard, but most ordinary people consider such acts as spitting on people, cursing them, screaming vile insults at them and burning their property (flags) to be blameworthy, when those people are not harming you in any way. And how are these things not a physical attack? Is the only kind of physically attack punching and beating someone? The only reason they didn’t succeed in physically beating the Catholics was the presence of the police.

    There is absolutely no excuse for what these protestors did. period. They are very much to be blamed.

    All this from people who would no doubt hold themselves up as supporters of “tolerance” in the face of Catholic “bigotry” and “intolerance.” Riiiiight.

  21. shane says:

    “Then the riot police came out and beat the ___ out of the protesters”

    Ahh! The Spanish police have a well-deserved reputation for taking no nonsense!!

  22. crifasi says:

    RichardT wrote: “they chose to go to the protesters and make the prayer an act of witness. That doesn’t mean that what they did was wrong. But it also means that I don’t think we can blame the protestors for their reaction (since the WYD pilgrims don’t seem to have actually been physically attacked).”

    This was the “reaction” for which you don’t think we can blame the protesters: “shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags. A gay couple came and made out in front of us”

    Please explain again how that’s not blameworthy.

  23. RichardT says:

    The pilgrims had deliberately gone out of their way to do something that they knew would annoy the protestors. In response, the protestors ‘made out’ in a way that they hoped would annoy the pilgrims.

    Sure, our way, prayer, is much better. But both sides deliberately did things that were clearly going to inflame an already tense situation.

    I’ve got a lot of respect for the pilgrims for having the guts to do it. But although I can criticise the protestors for the anti-Catholic bigotry that started their rally, I don’t really feel I can blame them for their reaction to that group of pilgrims.

  24. Kerry says:

    “…it also means that I don’t think we can blame the protestors for their reaction…” Ah, the poor, poor ‘protesters’, battered and bashed about by the prayers of provocateurs. Did they use the language of abusers? “Don’t make me hit you! Don’t make me spit on you! Don’t make me curse you, curse you!!” As beings with free will, we are responsible for all our actions, or none of them. One cannot have it both ways. (I do not include courts of law; their jurisdiction covers the laws, not morals and will.)

  25. RichardT says:

    Oh come off it, Kerry, I’m not feeling sorry for the protestors. And if they’ve done anything illegal, then sure, charge them with it.

    But if you deliberately go out of your way to find a large protest (which is confined to a small part of the city and so isn’t causing you any real trouble), and then knowingly rattle their cage, you’re going to get a load of abuse back.

  26. sea the stars says:

    Those beautiful Catholic girls and boys were bringing the light of Christ to the pit of Sodom. May they be richly rewarded.

  27. Lori Pieper says:

    Richard, yes, you’ve explained how it is very likely that people who are already ratcheted up with hate will react to something as innocuous as prayers with screaming and abuse. Statistically, yes, likely. But you have done nothing to explain how it is not blameworthy and reprehensible conduct. So do you actually condone this conduct? Do you find it good? Do you think it a fair response?

  28. Pachomius says:

    The young people do seem to have been rather unwise in their choice of what to do. There’s preaching the Gospel, and there’s waving it about in the face of an already-angry bull. And yes, one of the great saints might have gone up and preached at them. And he might have got himself killed without converting a single person, too. There are times and places when evangelisation is appropriate, and there are times and places when a strategic withdrawal might be more advisable. I also don’t see what meeting protest with protest achieves.

    Plus, I’m very uncomfortable with this sort of prayer-as-protest. It seems to me to be exactly the sort of showy praying which Christ condemned in Matthew 6:5-6: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ”

    Either pray or protest, but combining both seems to me to be somewhat blasphemous and to abuse prayer for an aggressive purpose.

    That said, I think RichardT is wrong that we can’t blame the protesters’ reaction. We absolutely can and should blame them for and condemn that reaction.

  29. RichardT says:

    “Do you find it good?” No.

    “Do you think it a fair response?” Yes.

  30. Banjo pickin girl says:

    It was obvious to me all along that RichardT wasn’t condoning things that are wrong or sympathizing with the protesters. That’s the problem with blogging, people read their own expressions into things.

  31. AnAmericanMother says:


    No – not a fair response.

    First of all, these ‘act up’ types have been getting in our faces for years and years in far more extreme ways . . . disrupting Masses, throwing stuff on priests and bishops, blocking access to churches and cathedrals. To my knowledge nobody has ever gone medieval on them, much as they may have deserved it. They don’t get to go medieval on us, either.

    Second of all — and this is what really bothers me — what you’re saying, in effect, is that these people are not bound by the law like everybody else, that they lack the intelligence and ability to conform their behavior to civilized norms — they were “born that way and can’t help it,” they are allowed to lose it and hurt other people because they are privileged and just can’t tolerate dissent or protest. So they get a pass.

    It’s the same argument that allows certain groups to riot and loot and so forth, but it’s a sort of excuse-making that is inhuman in the extreme — essentially denying them full humanity.

  32. RichardT says:

    If it helps calm down the discussion, I think when I said “I don’t blame them” I was talking in a broad sense rather than suggesting an actual moral law. Of course some of what the protestors did was a sin, including their loss of temper. But we all sin, and in the circumstances I don’t see what they did as being a particularly great sin. And on a social level, it’s an entirely expected reaction.

    My reaction to the initial posting of these photographs was that it was an attack on a WYD event, which would be a horrendous outrage and an alarming change in the climate of society (I’m not blaming Fr Z for that misunderstanding; he posted what information he had). Now we know more about it, I don’t think it was anything especially bad, alarming or surprising. Just one of those rows that sadly happen all too often when people rub up against each other.

    Yes, it’s sinful, and it weakens society as well as tarnishing the soul, but it’s no worse than a hundred other over-angry arguments that happen every day in every city, most of them nothing to do with religion. It’s sad, but I don’t think getting worked up about this one little incident gets us anywhere.

    Do I think the protestors should be ‘condemned’? I think there’s a lot of things to condemn first; this seems to be a long way down the list.

  33. benedetta says:

    I suppose I am willing to give RichardT the benefit of the doubt on this one though he refuses to say what the protesters were saying and he also seems to be saying that the Catholics were supposed to be confined and should not be free to move about. I disagree that they deliberately prayed to annoy people — I think that is an assertion which would require RichardT to be able to read their hearts. We don’t know their intentions. But, here are the facts. Before the towel guy went over to 4 (in a crowd of how many hostile chanting that the Pope is a pederast?) young ladies to ridicule them while they knelt on the sidewalk to pray, earlier in the week, mobbing people did seek out to harass, intimidate, alarm, annoy and threaten the pilgrims such that there are numerous photos of grown men screaming in faces invective to, habited nuns, frightened young women, pilgrim after pilgrim having to walk in a line single file past people screaming at them.

    So if it is true that, what would it be, maybe, 12, if that, young people took a stroll over to pray, assuming good intentions, and why should they fear walking around in the daylight in a city that invited them to be there in the first place, just for being associated as a Catholic, really, to say, we are walking in the flesh and yes it is very ok, well, let’s not repress or suppress or forget or deny what really did happen earlier in the week.

    In context of what was documented by mainstream media, it isn’t as RichardT would have it seem and I say kudos to those young people all the more. They showed that they are not about intimidation, not about imposition, they quietly prayed. But to pretend that they don’t exist or to have to be confined to the small space marked out for them from the very start of the week when the mobs tried to harass them into fear, from the very first days, well, sorry but that we as Catholics can’t do. Catholics exist and have every right to exist and move about freely. That is not going to change no matter the spectacle or the attempt to intimidate and make people afraid. The young people were not afraid to show who they were. Not pederasts or all the lies and hype chanted to or about them, as kicked off by the mobbers from day one.

    Still no one can say what they allegedly were protesting and that is because it was not protest. It was hate.

  34. RichardT says:

    AnAmericanMother, I’m not saying “they were born that way” or that they “get a pass”. But if you wind people up, they’re likely to shout back at you. Sure, they shouldn’t have done it. But how many of us have never done things we shouldn’t? I can’t see that this is a big thing.

    And you’re objecting to “‘act up’ types . . . disrupting Masses”. But these pilgrims disrupted their protest meeting.

    Other than the fact that we have right on our side, if we look at it from a secular point of view, what is the difference between the pilgrims’ actions and (for example) the ‘rainbow sash’ groups attending Mass? Both are doing something that should be instrinsically good (praying, attending Mass) but choosing to do so publicly in a way that will antagonise others, in order to proselytise.

  35. RichardT says:


    “RichardT … also seems to be saying that the Catholics were supposed to be confined and should not be free to move about”
    Don’t be silly. It seems to be the protestors who were confined, in a small area of the city (‘police lines’ are mentioned), not the Catholics. The Catholics could walk anywhere, but these ones chose to go to the one part of the city where there was a big protest. Sadly sometimes we have to separate opposing groups, and just as the protestors should not have been allowed to “freely move around” to hurl abuse at WYD attendees, Catholics who seek out protestors in this way are making trouble.

    “I disagree that they deliberately prayed to annoy people”
    And I was very careful to avoid saying that their motive was to annoy people. What their motive was, of course I cannot know. But they did deliberately choose to pray in a way that they knew would annoy people, when there was plenty of opportunity to pray in a way that would not do so, and that’s making trouble.

    Making trouble isn’t always wrong, of course, but it does generally lead to trouble.

    “earlier in the week, mobbing people did seek out to harass”
    Then that was very bad; they should have been stopped from doing so, and possibly the riot police in this story are a sign that the authorities did act (although a bit late). But that’s not what we are talking about here. We’re talking about the opposite – a group of Catholics who deliberately sought out the protestors and did something that they knew would annoy them.

  36. AnAmericanMother says:

    The difference is significant: disrupting a Mass is trespassing on private property.

    The public streets are just that — public. You are not “disrupting” a public protest by standing on the side of the street and praying, or even holding a sign. That’s what “public” means — open to all. Now, if you start throwing things, or getting in people’s faces, or yelling at the protestors, that’s another story.

    The agitators have been doing the latter all week – making kids and little old nuns ‘run the gantlet’ of cursing, spitting, shaking fists and fingers in their faces – again assuming that they are privileged to do what they like, and the Catholics won’t dare respond in any way. In effect they have had a campaign of intimidation going, to keep the Catholics terrorized and cowed.

    Good on these kids for showing the agitators that they are not intimidated. And sometimes public prayer is a good method to reach people when nothing else will do the job.

  37. RichardT says:

    “disrupting a Mass is trespassing on private property”

    Surely Mass is a public event? The Church isn’t a private club (except in the eyes of the secular law, which surely isn’t an attitude that we should be supporting).

    But it’s gone midnight over here, so I’m off to bed. Good night all.

  38. benedetta says:

    RichardT this is what you said
    We’re talking about the opposite – a group of Catholics who deliberately sought out the protestors and did something that they knew would annoy them.

    First of all why should people go around thinking that prayer would annoy? That is ridiculous. Further you still have not said what they were protesting. If they were protesting, Catholics, then, all the more reason for Catholics to nonviolently resist the gross and dehumanizing stereotype by showing up in an unthreatening (and quite vulnerable given the comparison of sheer numbers) way. Given what happened earlier in the week, it was probably a very good thing on the whole for young people to say, you are all hopped up on hate, against, what, exactly, human beings? Well, here we are. See for yourself. Just ask us.

    I take issue with all of your presumptions, that this was about valid and legitimate protest (you still don’t say, and I can’t find, what exactly), that Catholics because of the vile harassment they faced while walking single file to get from one place to another even in the confined area should then have felt, as visitors (say, from the Philippines, or, Mexico?) afraid to move about, to visit the entire city and enjoyably meet the people, that somehow they asked for it just for be willing to go out to meet with people who seemed deceived and manipulated such that they were willing to chant that the Pope was a pederast. What about it was a protest meeting. And, given that there was ample opportunity to scream at the Catholics earlier in the week, what necessitated the big spectacle follow up meeting. Who was the leader, spokesperson, what are the viewpoints, and like I said, was a permit for assembly applied for or was it all about threats, terror and anarchy. This was not a conversation, nor did these so called protesters extend respect or welcome or hospitality to the attendees who obviously have no say power authority or control over their sick or distorted beliefs about Catholics people or the affairs of the Spanish government. Just pointless, all the way.

    Now if it had been a ‘real’ protest, with legitimate, something (anything?) other than for the purpose of expressing hatred towards one religious group (of all nationalities, ethnicities, cultures and languages even, apparently?) then perhaps the so-called protesters would have taken the moment to have a conversation with these, however you call them, stupid or brave Catholics for being in the wrong place at the wrong time as the people wanted it known, no Catholics allowed, and, if they come we will hurt you (as they sent that message from the beginning upon the arrival of the pilgrims). Those were the premises. It was fear, shock and awe, as is all terrorism, with, nothing reasonable behind it, otherwise if there had been we would in fact be debating its relative merits right now. Pointless hatred. Very sick and very dysfunctional. Altogether unhealthy for the human spirit and the human community.

  39. AnAmericanMother says:


    I know you’ve headed off to bed (good night!) but you’re overlooking the difference between an invitee on private property and a member of the public on public property. And it has nothing to do with a “private club”.

    The Church, which owns the property, invites the public onto their property for a specific purpose: to worship. Not for any purpose that the public may take into their heads, like shouting obscenities at the priest or throwing red paint on the altar.

    The same is true of any private property owner. A store owner invites customers to come and shop – not hold a revival meeting. A restaurant owner invites the public to come and eat a meal – not play football in the restaurant. If you invite the public onto your house property for a garage sale, that does not mean they get to rove all over the place poking into stuff.

    The public street is different. Nobody gets to control what anybody else is doing in a public place — so long as they don’t block traffic, harass or assault others, or damage property, the public can sing, dance, play football, eat a meal, or sell hot dogs. Or pray.

  40. eulogos says:

    Here is a ten minute video of what went on. There are translations on the screen. The things which are said are pretty shocking. The Pope is called a Nazi and a Pederast. People have signs saying “The Pope is coming, watch out for the children.” One protestor says to a WYD participant “Your religion is a provocation.”

    It looks as if the WYD people just came out of a subway station and were in the midst of a protest crowd. People yelled things of unutterably foulness at them, and they used spiritual weapons,holding up crucifixes and saying the rosary. They mostly didn’t respond to the ugliness, although one guy said, “Gay pride day, I stay home. When it is our day, you do this.”

    I think the young people did amazingly well.

    Susan Peterson

  41. eulogos says:

    Some of the protestors were yelling “We are sinners.” As they did it, they were sometimes making sexual gestures, or ridiculing Catholic practices as they imagine them. But it was pretty amazing to hear them shouting “we are sinners.”They meant, I think, “You think we are sinners.” It was almost as if they were identifying themselves unwittingly as those whom Jesus came to save. I think at that point the Catholics ought to have joined their chant; maybe it would have made them think.
    Susan Peterson

  42. benedetta says:

    Yes Goodnight RichardT (goodnight, Jon-boy…).

    The notion that with the week thus kicked off for the World Youth Day Catholic pilgrims, nuns, young women, of the single file walk through hatred, threats and intimidation, the very idea that anyplace in the city ought to be feared as off limits for freedom of movement because of thuggery disguised as pretense is something that should be resisted, completely.

    What if instead of this handful of however you decide to label them, stupid or brave young Catholics showing up, a gaggle of nuns en route somewhere? Or a lone priest. Or just a city resident who happened to be wearing a World Youth Day lapel pin. What then?

    Along RichardT’s reasoning any Catholic was supposed to be living in fear from the treatment delivered through threats at the very beginning of the week however these handful of youth didn’t get the message about living in fear and hatred and showed up, as is, anyway. Yet the alleged protesters were in costumes.

    This is not about politics, not about legitimate protest, not even about the Church really. It is hatred against any person who identifies as a certain religion and that sort of hatred has no place in civilized society. After decades of people working for peaceful coexistence among people, for respectful dialogue, to come here and all the more single out Catholic youth as this sort of they asked for it sentiment is bizarre and a smokescreen to deflect us from recognizing the real issue.

    Whenever a group has come together united by hatred against a people affiliated, whether actual or perceived, with a particular religious practice or culture or ethnicity, in history this is about scapegoating. This is the face and demeanor, the actions of xenophobia and intolerance.

    Many of us have had the opportunities for edification and discourse that arises as a result of living in diverse areas. In New York after the terrorist attacks, reasonable and enlightened minds called for calm, tolerance and to resist impulse to blame or stereotype Muslim believers as a group, and people were very responsive to this.

    Here, Catholics were invited to gather in Madrid, and, people came out in mobs to threaten. It is not reasonable. Leaders there should be asking how in the midst of that society and culture, in supposedly sophisticated locales, this could happen. As there seem to be no coherent viewpoints or ideas, political or otherwise, from the supposed protesters, there seems similarly no leadership. Still there must be cultural, academic, educational institutions, religious groups, that should be asking the questions and following up. If there is no ability to follow up, because there are no traceable activism revealing the viewpoints, then one can be sure that what is behind the incitement of people to threaten and intimidate, as grown men, nuns, and thus make young Catholics feel afraid to move about freely, are, lies, deception, manipulation that really doesn’t care a thing for these protesters. It’s terrorism and it’s xenophobia and I am not going to condemn young people for showing up, vulnerable, few as they were, and say, you want to see us? Here we are.

    If the protesters could not face the Catholics face to face because of manipulated and hopped up on some senseless, faceless hatred, then, it’s about xenophobia, scapegoating, and a reflection of dysfunction in the dictatorship of relativism. It appears that all is not as enlightened and tolerant as has been previously asserted. It seems that there are chasms of irrational hatred against one religious group. It’s about investment in a stereotype instead of willingness to meet people face to face. The supposed protesters started things off by sending a message of hatred, fear and intolerance. A handful of Catholics showed up to say, there is no reason to hate or fear us and further we find no reason to fear you. Their presence was a tiny application of hope to a horrible, out of control situation not grounded in reality but in sickness. They trusted these supposed protesters that they would respect them once they had a chance to really meet and know them. They ran a risk. That is what the Christian adventure is all about. We should not be afraid, of evil, of hatred, and certainly not be afraid of fellow human beings wherever human beings are. I plan to follow the example of these young people. There is no way that I am going to live in fear of humanity with whom I am privileged to belong, in all our great and beautiful diversity. We are just going to have to respect one another for who we are, and if a group of religious adherents visits our city, and we do not care for that religion, we are going to have to all the more show hospitality, respect, welcome and gratitude for their presence. That’s life.

  43. Seamus says:

    “But they did deliberately choose to pray in a way that they knew would annoy people, when there was plenty of opportunity to pray in a way that would not do so, and that’s making trouble.”

    Every January, the March for Life takes place in Washington. Every year, the anti-Catholic counter-protesters come out and stand on the sidelines, yelling the usual hateful things (“Get your rosaries off my ovaries”, “The Pope is a pederast”, etc.), in a way that they know will annoy people. And the marchers, being provoked, get up in the faces of the counter-protesters and yell hateful things back at them, and eventually break through the police lines to charge the anti-Catholics. Oh, wait, no. They do nothing of the sort. They walk on past, perhaps shaking their heads sadly and offering a prayer that God will melt the hardness of the hearts of those who hate the Church.

  44. Joanne says:

    “I think Gandhi was a self-promoting trouble-maker.”

    haha, I have been thinking lately that I want to learn more about Gandhi. He’s pretty much been canonized by the Left, which makes me a bit suspicious of his “sainthood.” I know the quote attributed to him, ie, “I like your Christ, but I do not like Christians,” or something to that effect. And think how ironic that Mother Teresa came to do her work in his country. Would he not have liked her?

    “Expect more of this in the future, dear readers.”

    Not sure what to think of this. We could start seeing more of this horrible stuff, especially in Europe, not only from secularists, but also from Islamofascists as well. However, I guess I think there is something to the idea of self-fulfilling prophesies, and I’m not sure it’s wise to speak ominously about persecutions, etc, as though they are a foregone conclusion. Of course we can’t ignore harassment and the like, and all this should be kept in prayer, but there is still much to be positive about vis-a-vis religious expression and practice, especially in the US. Hopefully this is true in Europe as well, although I admit the situation doesn’t look quite as healthy there.

  45. crifasi says:

    RichardT, you’re confusing the moral content of a reaction with the fact that it’s a socially expected one. For instance, “on a social level,” it doesn’t surprise me at all that many missionaries in history were killed when they deliberately preached in hostile cultures. To use your words, “on a social level, it’s an entirely expected reaction” in many cultures. Yet I doubt you would waste keystrokes making such a critique of missionaries. So why are you doing it now?

  46. Raymond says:

    To those who are not familiar with Spanish (and for that matter Latin/Mediterranean) culture, Spaniards–whether Catholic or not–are a passionate people, for better or worse. And they show this in public, too. Just as the Spanish Left is not afraid of loudly insulting the Pope and his flock to their faces, the Spanish Right also boos and insults the current Socialist Prime Minister in public events. Of course, actually assaulting others physically is another matter. Nonetheless, this attitude is in marked contrast to that of Americans, for example; who, though they might insult their politicians in the bloggosphere and in private conversations, would never actually dare do so to their faces in public.

  47. Seamas O Dalaigh says:


    Thanks for showing us those two photos. It is gratifying that at least two of the excellent young people in the second photo are my fellow Australians (the young lady in the centre kneeling and the one on the left standing).

    I note the protester is carring a rainbow flag, an all to familiar sight here in Sydney.

    Yes, I’m sure we’ll all see more and more of this.

  48. Charivari Rob says:

    It sounds as though the young pilgrims made some decent choices in their behavior when face-to-face with some ugly behavior but may have made questionable choices regarding going to there in the first place, staying there, and most particularly in going back after having left.

    Speaking as someone who has experience of school group international trips in high school and college, and a tiny little bit of experience chaperoning teens on smaller scale domestic retreats – I gotta say that my principle reaction is to wonder what conversation they had with their chaperone/group leader after the fact. Actually, before the fact, too.

    It’s not clear from the account whether they’re high school or college age.

    In college, we were at an age to accept some responsibility for our actions, and had some liberty to wander. In high school, while we weren’t in the company or custody of our chaperones 24/7, we had defined limits to our wanderings, instructions to stay together, and instructions to check in.

    As a chaperone, if any of my “yutes” came back to me with this story… After ascertaining if anyone was hurt, the next part of my reaction would be – “YOU WHAT!?” Well, hopefully I wouldn’t yell and would communicate calmly. “I want to make sure I understand correctly. You had unstructured time in our schedule and permission to go about the city, and you (a) heard about an anti-Catholic demonstration & decided that your little group of Catholics should go “check it out”, (b) when you got there & it appeared hostile enough to make some of your group nervous, you divided your group, and (c) after it proved to be hostile and you left, you again divided your group and went back?”

    At the very least, such a youth would find their privilege of liberty revoked. At most, serious discussion would take place among the adults as to whether the youth needed to be sent home.

    None of that excuses the protesters and the haters, but my main concern in such a situation would be the safety of my group. I don’t have too much control or any responsibility for the actions the protesters make that affect my group, but I do have responsibility for my decisions and how they may affect my group.

  49. Singing Mum says:

    RichardT, don’t be so hard on Washington. There are a lot of British oaths one shouldn’t take or keep. Seems to me that’s what got England in so much trouble.

    And I wouldn’t be so hard on the Catholic kids, either. If more Brits were able to demonstrate the witness of the WYD counter-protesters, you just might have a more vibrant faith on your little Fair Isle.

  50. Captain Peabody says:

    Have we really reached the point where public prayer is a “provocation”? A place where actions such as these are not only understandable, but even excusable and justifiable?

    There is no “justification” for actions such as these. And even if there were, silent prayer in one’s sight does not constitute such a “justification.”

    Is it something that could be predicted given the sort of people that go to such protests? Yes. Does this in any way justify, excuse, or make licit these actions, or in any way make the people that did such things “not to be blamed”? No. If anything, the fact that silent prayer in their sight provoked such visceral reactions is to their blame, not to their credit.

    Now, is it possible that these young Christians acted unwisely in these actions? Yes, I think that’s probably the case. But one is not justified by the foolishness of others. And the actions of the protesters are both unjustifiable (including attempting to physically attack the praying students) and demonstrate precisely what others have said they demonstrate: hatred for the Church, and a fundamental lack of respect for human dignity.

    This reminds me of nothing so much as the ancient accounts of martyrdoms, where the arena mobs would actively cheer on and assist in the punishment and deaths of Christians, and respond to their resistance and prayers with shouts of rage and demands for further tortures. The ancient spirit of the arena is never far from man, I think; and it rears its head especially where the Church is absent, and where she is hated.

    For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy upon us, and upon the whole world. Amen.

  51. Bettnet says:

    I’m in Madrid now. This week, a religious sister with our group was leading some pilgrims through the city when they encountered a protest. They did not seek it out, but keep in mind that for most of the week the pilgrims have been in the city center, not out in the Cuerto Vientos, and thus confronted with the protests. However, I would also point out that these protests were much smaller compared to World Youth Day than the media depictions would have it.

    In any case, one of the protesters got in the faces of this group of pilgrims with the sister–who is known for her holiness and who has herself suffered religious persecution in her homeland in the Middle East, so she knows something of this– and she met him with the love of Christ. She kept a smile on her face and asked him why he wanted to scare the kids and so on. She told him they only wanted to come to Spain to pray and be with others to pray and to be with the Holy Father. Long story, short: By the end of the conversation, the protester was in tears in her arms and saying how sorry he was. The love of Christ when lived authentically is a greater witness than any words.

  52. Traductora says:

    Richard T and others:

    You´re ignorant of the circumstances. The M15 people are a group of mostly anarchist and hard-left ¨protesters¨ who were camped for several weeks in the Puerta del Sol. The city was finally able to get them out, although the national government found them useful and resisted Madrid´s attempts to control them. They took to having running street battles with the police and also harrassing passersby, including tourists. They and the gay groups and atheist groups applied for a parade permit to have an anti-Pope parade and demonstration that was designed to coincide with the Pope´s route and the places where WYD attendees would be likely to be found.

    The City of Madrid attempted to give them another route, but again, the representatives of the Church-hating Zapatero government insisted that they be allowed to do this exactly where it would intimidate and provoke the greatest number of WYD participants. Sol is a big transportation connection where a number of Metro lines come together, so they knew the WYD people would have to pass through there sooner or later. The police were not permitted to intervene unless the demonstrators physically touched the WYD people.

    The ¨protesters¨ gathered there. People who hadn´t been following the Spanish press had no idea in advance that the gays and M15 were waiting for them in the plaza, and they emerged into a situation of screamed insults, people waving condoms, etc. The Catholics who came did so to protect the arriving young people and clergy (who were attacked just because they were identifiable by their cassocks, just like in the leftist good old days of the Spanish Civil War) and to show that Catholics were not intimidated by the tactics of the left and the fact that the left had the full support of the Spanish government.

    A number of the Catholic supporters were Spaniards, since virtually all of the gays and leftists were Spaniards and they were screaming at and terrifying foreign visitors (who didn´t even understand what they said, but the gist was pretty obvious) and it was clear that the visitors needed help and protection. The police intervened when the gays and M15 began to throw things, but the Catholic young people were there to support the arriving WYD attendees with their presence and to escort them through the crowd of thugs. I heard from other people that this was a great help. They weren´t there at first, and WYD arrivals were coming out of the Metro and walking right into this howling band of gays and leftists with no idea of what was going on,

  53. Navarricano says:

    I have tried to read all of the reactions before posting, and I’ve got through most of them, so I’ll just add one or two other things here.

    First, with regard to Sol and the World Youth Day events: WYD was not confined to one area of the city, it took place throughout the city, at different locations and pilgrims were spread all through the city during the entire event. The Cuatro Vientos airfield was the site chosen for the macro-Mass on the final day, but all the different meetings between different groups of young pilgrims and their bishops, catechetical sessions, concerts and theatrical performances and so on took place at locations throughout the city. The confessionals, for example, were installed in a section of the city’s central Retiro park (think Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London), which is not very far from Sol on foot or by Metro.

    So the young Catholics in this article WERE NOT the only ones who suffered abuse as a result of deliberately diving into the middle of an anti-Catholic protest. Yes, these seem to have made a choice to “go and check it out” as they write, and to pray in front of the protestors, and to leave and return. And I both admire their courage and question their judgement. I tend to be of the “prepare for martyrdom if God asks it of you, but don’t go looking for it” school, though I admire the evangelical zeal of a St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the Sultan. Anyway, others have written and discussed that extensively in their responses, so I’ll leave that aside and move on.

    But, as I wrote here a few days ago, there were quite a lot of young people, as well as their chaperones and priests and religious, who were in Sol for reasons of tourism when the anti-Catholic mob poured into the plaza. There were also those who, having a bit of time between scheduled events to do a little tourism, surely came up out of the Metro unawares to encounter a howling mob of angry nutcases. These were also abused, insulted, spit upon and physically threatened. There are plenty of YouTube videos of the proceedings out there, so, no, it is not the case that the vast majority of the protestors were deliberately being provoked by anyone. There was also no question of the WYD organizers informing people of this event and warning them to stay away from the plaza, because the permission for the march was given at the 11th hour aftger WYD was already underway and there was no effective way to get the word out to all the WYD attendees.

    So, the larger question remains: why did the Government Delegate and the Ministry of the Interior allow this march in the Puerta del Sol plaza during the WYD events, especially knowing how it was likely to turn out? And they did know, because of the nature of the groups who were requesting permission for the demonstration. Would they have permitted a Catholic procession with an image of Christ through the Chueca neighborhood on Gay Pride Day in the name of “free speech”? No. Would they have allowed anti-Shariah protests outside Madrid’s M-30 mosque on a Friday during Ramadan? No. So why this?

    The simple answer is that this government, the present Socialist government of Spain, is belligerently anti-Catholic and has spent the last 7 years doing everything possible to attack and undermine the Church in Spain. They could have impeded this or forced the protestors to hold their little sabbat in some other part of the city, but they didn’t. Even the head of the police officers’ union here in Spain has filed a formal complaint in protest of the decision and the situation it put the police in. So, any incidents that occurred or people injured during the protests are the fault of the government in my view. This should never have been allowed.

  54. benedetta says:

    Call it youthful imprudence, foolhardy, whatever you like, that they went anyway when the group sent the message from the beginning of the World Youth Day week that all Catholics were to fear them (recall the anarchist with the anarchy tatoo standing toe to toe — but of course doing little else than — and staring a police officer in the face, for the photo opp) since they intended harm towards all Catholics. But we should still thank those young people for going anyway, though it was a risk. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…and these young people went making the world safe for democracy. To use a couple of phrases that have now begun almost cliche. In person, they say to the thuggery, this is who we are, nothing more, nothing less. And, since it was so much spectacle and photo op, in the first place, now Catholics all over the world have one of our own to go with the behavior of the anarchists and the non-legitimate protest protesters screaming hate. So I thank these young people and if they missed their curfew, hey, that happens. I just don’t think we ought to live in fear, period, on many levels, and who knows maybe some in the crowd screaming had a change of heart as a result of their prayer. Can we really say we know, everything? Likely those in the crowd, like the young people in London, were manipulated into showing up by social media elites who don’t mind saying all kinds of wrong, deceitful, or stereotypic things in order to put people up to doing things they probably would feel ashamed about in their hearts if they really were honest with themselves and about being human. Even if one mistakenly consents to that sort of deceitful spirit, somewhere in one’s inner self there is a yearning for truth, love, peace and the prayers of these young people could very well give God permission to love those who were screaming hateful lies all the more. I add my prayers and rosary to theirs.

  55. AnAmericanMother says:

    Why am I not surprised that the Zapatero government is aiding and abetting these thugs? And the harkback to the Spanish Civil War is disturbing.

    Socialists hate and fear the Church. They may use her more naive or misguided members for their own purposes, but once they get in power they do everything they can to harm her.

    Sound familiar to anyone?

  56. Supertradmum says:

    All of us, especially the young, should be trained in non-violent protesting. This is a long and hallowed tradition within the Catholic Church. One can be trained not to engage violent or irritating protesters, even ones who are “in your face”. Those of us who have stood at abortion mills know how to ignore the nasty comments and rude responses. This is the art of peaceful protest. Prayer, the rosary, singing of hymns, or merely silence, are learned responses. One does not have to use the situation to preach, teach, or return harassment. Also, fighting at this level is not the Catholic way, nor is it necessary.

    I am not against “warfare” which is defensive or necessary, such as outlined by the Thomists. But, in the face of protests, one should look to pacific and non-inflammatory ways of responding, so as neither to encourage or inflame the situation.

    When it is time for a crusade, I would be the first to encourage my men-folk to fight, but we are not there quite yet….Some saints die in peaceful protest and some in war. Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Vienna, the Holy Name of Mary, pray for us.

  57. benedetta says:

    What the thugs gamble on (and most ought to know better) is that Catholics live in some kind of unicorn and rainbow nonreality world. We can look to Fr. Z’s post about the Collect. We have eyes open, we do not repress or deny the full reality, since we know Good Friday intimately that means we also realize the full reality, import and power of the Risen Lord. If what we see is ugly, crass, or base, or even threatening, that is never the fullest reality, never the whole story, not the way God views the world. Even if we become surrounded, or invaded, by hostile, personal, threats and lies, we choose the good, we choose what is beautiful, noble, good, kind, holy and we have ample witnesses who have proven in much worse circumstances that this exists, is always an option no matter how things might be portrayed by powers that be. No matter how much hate or scorn can be heaped on us, we still have the ability in our being to go with God who is love and living charity right in the most concrete moments of life. We are best prepared remain fortified by God’s goodness when we face and acknowledge that evil, the one who was a liar and a thief, a murderer from the beginning, exists, with a certain ability to attract and to sway people to do limited and often senseless things. We don’t prepare on its terms, which is to dominate, impose, to lead with fear, shock and spectacle, terror. We prepare on the terms of God’s power, confidence and goodness which already overcame evil. We pray that people in free will see and choose to place their abilities with the goodness of God. But we cannot control if some refuse, we cannot control if some choose to hate, and we don’t control those who choose to attack, Christians. We are not having a conversation with senseless, irrational, evil, which in fact seeks none but only to use and abuse humanity for its own purposes. We are in relationship with God, and this we freely choose. But those who deny that evil exists (though we pray every Easter to renew our baptismal vows) will be caught unprepared for the way that evil utilizes the dictatorship of relativism for its own ends. It will cave to it in fear and even in fear it neglects to choose the good. I agree with Supertradmum. We should resist evil and pray for the peace of Christ to reign in our hearts. If we prepare as in fantasy or halcyon checking out of reality that it is not at work then we can find ourselves, despite our intention or desire, to cooperate, and often through being duped. It is a universally human experience. But when we do we may approach God with confidence and be reconciled and strengthened to commit ourselves again to goodness, to walking with the Way, the Truth and the Life, in the communion of His Church, with the knowledge and wisdom that experience and looking at the world fully conscious provides to go forward, without fear.

  58. Centristian says:

    I believe that public demonstrations against any religion are completely tasteless and inexcusable.

    Last Summer I was in Palmyra, New York, where the LDS Church finds its origins and maintains several historic sites relevant to Joseph Smith and his alleged visions. Each Summer, the Mormons host a pageant on Hill Cumorah (where the tablets were allegedly found) which dramatizes the story of the Book of Mormon. A friend (a Catholic priest, in fact) invited me to attend, and I agreed to join him.

    Upon arrival we were appalled to find hordes of loud, mean-spirited, obnoxiously misbehaved Evangelical “Christians” carrying bullhorns and shouting insults against the Mormons present, against all those entering the grounds, and against the Mormon religion, in general. I couldn’t believe it. To me it was the height of bad taste, to camp out right across the street from a religion’s sacred site and there to verbally trash that religion using bullhorns and loudspeakers. Of course, they also carried nasty placards and sandwich boards and passed out anti-Mormon literature.

    The Mormons responded by not responding at all. They didn’t approach the demonstrators; they simply ignored them. They seemed completely unfazed, in fact, by the insulting diatribes being shouted at them on their own turf. They welcomed all visitors cheerfully, they escorted us to our seats, directed us to the facilities and refreshment stands…and never once tried to proselytze us, incidentally. They were all smiles and joy and welcome.

    I don’t believe in a word of the Book of Mormon, obviously; it’s all fiction. But that day, those Mormons won my respect and my sympathy by their exemplary behavior in the face of the shouts and protests of their enemies endured at one of their own sacred sites. I’ve never cared for Evangelicals and Fundamentalists to begin with but this seemed like a new low, even for them. The Mormons handled it all with impressive grace and dignity.

    This demonstration in Madrid likewise reflects the complete disregard for boundaries that seems to plague society, today. To organize in a public place with the express purpose of mocking somebody else’s religion is so utterly despicable as to astound, really. To protest someone else’s politics is one thing, but someone else’s religion? It’s no better than the behavior of those Baptist “God Hates F*gs” protesters that show up at the funerals of fallen soldiers.

    Too many people disregard too many boundaries, today. We can disagree with a religion without behaving like animals about it.

  59. benedetta says:

    Totally agree, Centristian. We don’t have to invest faith in other religious practices or choices but we can show respect to one another in the dignity of our shared humanity. Respect means, at the very least, refraining from a mob ganging up to shout horrid things at real people.

    I also think that just as it is totally wrong to somehow believe this is legitimate political protest, it is not altogether accurate to label this as anti-Catholic. Of course it has expression in things which are hostile to Catholics in their effects. But, very likely the majority who engaged in this were duped, deceived, manipulated and put up to it for various reasons. As I said some may have been paid. But the great many likely were convinced of some hateful things without basis in fact or reality. Pure hate against one religious group tends to work like that. If there was reason employed to begin with, or actual viewpoint even in relativistic sense, we would know it and be able to debate it, but, there is nothing. Further, the chants themselves had no shred of truth to them. Now I would guess that the majority of young people who supported the hate do not or have not had occasion to know really any practicing Catholics and so have fallen for hype and stereotype advanced which does have roots in anti-Catholicism though still not in reason. That is why we should be assertive when mainstream media here or institution or academia voices even small lies, deceptions, stereotype, caricature, mockery and ridicule towards Catholics and with charity show that Catholics are real people and what they are doing is rooted in hatred and scapegoating. It matters, even the small deceptions because young people who lack means to enlighten or know the truth or get accurate information, who for the cool factor will permit themselves to be duped or manipulated into non-reality, will be the agents who carry out the acts of hatred on behalf of the ones who instigate with little or subtle lies or stereotype. When it happens we should ask for dialogue with reason and respect. If there is possibility for rational dialogue it will happen. But if the intent is to destroy, divide, threaten and harm, it will run from the light and will avoid open discussion and meeting at all costs. I admit, looking around our own shores we can see the damage has already been done in some ways, and sadly, some in the Church have allowed themselves to be used maybe unwittingly to support this, but it is by no means a lost cause and we should recognize that reason and the light, discussion in respect support the free and open expression of religion, not mobbing and innuendo about Catholics. We should not be afraid and we should cheerfully make our presence known, for our own sake, the sake of our children and young people, for the sake of an open society and our country, and for the sake of those who would be duped into acts of hatred. If we agree on the terms of hatred to hide the joyful practice of our faith then we assent to life in fear which is not God’s plan.

  60. Singing Mum says:

    Bettnet, thanks for the story. I hope that reminds Cathloics of our calling to witness to our faith out of love for God and love for souls. God bless Sister for her courage and tender heart.

  61. Madrileno says:

    No one said that the events of the WYD were going to be in Cuatro Vientos Airport before Saturday night Pope’s speech.

    I mean, pilgrims start arriving Madrid on Monday, so from that day to Saturday night ALL events were on the city centre (Retiro, Cibeles, etc). Just check the agenda in the official web:

    Don’t know what kind of information you read, or from where you take your data, but it’s simply not true.

    From Madrid, Spain.

  62. Madrileno says:

    “Guessing that the ‘Sol’ where they say the anti-Catholic protests were taking place was Puerta del Sol, the main square in Madrid, a quick look at Google Maps shows that it was 5 or 6 miles from the Cuatro Vientos area where this weekend’s WYD events were taking place.”

    RICHARD, you’re WORNG!

    No one said that the events of the WYD were going to be in Cuatro Vientos Airport before Saturday night Pope’s speech.

    I mean, pilgrims start arriving Madrid on Monday, so from that day to Saturday night ALL events were on the city centre (Retiro, Cibeles, etc). Just check the agenda in the official web:

    Don’t know what kind of information you read, or from where you take your data, but it’s simply not true.

    From Madrid, Spain.

  63. mike cliffson says:

    RichardT et al:
    1. This very thread is a victory for THEM. Spending, having to waste time even here on WDTPRS. Worldwide, .BBC to Vancouver times (“hurling shouts at each other”) moral equivalence , media eclipsing of WYDMadrid.
    2. This was PLANNED, my dear Sir.And hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Spaniards knew it. Foreign MSM probably did too.
    For the record
    On the 8th of August,( before the 17th, in my book,) my inbox had email from | MasLibres.?org and , check them out,do. detailing HOW THIS WAS PLANNED and organizing a publicorder peticion, which naturally I signed as did many Spaniards.

    Spanish law supposedly guarantees freedom of religion INCLUDING religious practice on the public square.Following EU ideas of relegating religious freedom to the back bedroom to avoid “Hurting” and “Offending”, this is under attack. (Sounds familiar to you cousins?) But, that IS the law as it stands. Spanish law also allows counterdemonstrations under freedom of expression, but, rightly, under the restriction of first come first served – if you’ve “booked” , say Trafalgar /Times Square as it were months back a counterdemo MAY wholly legally be, (and is when a cause THEY like is in question), prohibited /rerouted on public order grounds by the “delegado del gobierno”(local reresentative of the federal, as it were, “home office”) at the same venue and within x100yards of it or on most of its habitual access routes, etc.Typically a cordoned-off sidestreet on an access route, or odd outer park, is authorized for such. This is routinely considerably widened to whole city centres being off limits for “counterdemos” for eg major football matches, on PUBLIC ORDER GROUNDS ALONE. (And National Livelihood : you gotta tourist industry as GNP-relevant as Spain’s, you gotta keep the place an attractive event venue.)
    All the spiritualities in the church, and all Spanish dioceses, wished, planned, and obtained public order permission, many months ago, to have many on the street etc acts and events around WYD, including all the rest of Spain as pilgrims arrived and were put up days before ( 500 clicks from Madrid we put up four, not to praise myself, so did everybody everywhere.)
    Bear in mind :
    On the “Madrid public security board”
    Less on the side of the angels than one could wish,but propapal vist and in some ways procatholic, genuinely pro catholic freedom of worship, at least: the Madrid PP (Partido Popular, RINOS is a very rough usa approx.)regional Govt .Controls many buildings and services, hospitals, education, fire services, etc. Pressed for limits on counterdemos as above .

    Madrid municipality: same party, PP, as above, but lukewarmer in its mayor,.(Mayor’s outlook could be compared to Guliani in USA). Controls municipal policemen and much else that you wouldn’t necessarily imagine.Keen at least on promoting madrid as a venue, making gestures to catholics in its voting base, the volume of commerce in an offmonth…
    Pressed for limits on counterdemos as above, including technical reports.

    Professional Police advisors: similar, on constitutional and public order grounds alone, according to Libertaddigital, a web news service founded by the catholic radio services two top ex journalists, where you can check interviews with police union spokespersons to this effect.

    Govt of Spain, seat located in Madrid.Worse than you’d think, unless you revere, say, Castro or Chavez. Names and controls the abovementioned “Delegado del Gobierno ” for Madrid,as for all 17 autonomous regions in Spain, whose main responsabilty is controlling and coordinating security: Civil guard, national police, riot squads, and similar.Authorizes demos, power to choose itineraries etc as above.

    Move 1. Counterdemo not authorized anywhere near eg Puerta del sol
    move 2. 16th : news came that (too late to inform pilgrims) that the nonpermission order had been rescinded for the “hub of the universe ” , ie Puerta del Sol , a real Madrid “mustpassthrough” presumably central Govt overriding its own minion. (She and they have got “form”)

    Much more could be said!

    One moral : exposing onself to MSM is an occasion of sin. I suspect believing and thinking as a result of MSM reports is culpably sinful, but then I’m ignorant.

    Follow up if you’re interested:
    ” (
    Sent: Monday, August 08, 2011 4:13:06 PM
    To: …./…
    Yo SÍ espero a Benedicto XVI
    Pide a la delegada del Gobierno en Madrid que aplique la Ley e impida la celebración de la “manifestación anti-Papa” del próximo 17 de agosto.
    ¡Basta ya de hostigar a los católicos!Grupos autoritarios y gente del llamado “Movimiento 15-M” de indignados preparan un boicot a la Jornada Mundial de la Juventud y la visita del Papa Benedicto XVI.Quieren tomar el centro de Madrid con su mensaje de odio a los católicos el próximo 17 de agosto, víspera de la llegada del Santo Padre.
    Ayúdanos a parar este acto intolerante. Nuestras leyes garantizan la libertad religiosa y de culto.

  64. Mdepie says:

    I am not sure what Richard T’s point is, but if he means the anit-Catholic protestors are creepy lunatics and those of us who are parents should discourage our youth ( especially young women ) from directly engaging them, well than he has a point. ( the picture of the white clad, sandal wearing dude spitting on the young women speaks for itself as to the nature of these folks) . I hope no one would suggest that the proper response to any of the WYD participants regardless of anything they said or where they went, was to spit on them. In my world people who spit on young women are moral slime. In the United States this also constitutes battery so if a cause of legal action and/or police involvement. Sorry.. that’s just the way it is. If law enforcement in Spain dealt with such people by beating the _____ out of them, well more power to law enforcement in Spain.

    In any case I would tend to see the Anti-Catholic protestors as either deranged or possessed. (Again I refer to the bizzarre garb in the picture) . There are also evidently pretty stupid since according to the story they ended up getting themselves pounced on by the police. Beyond police the only folks who should directly confront them are trained exorcists or psychiatrists. While we must stand for the Faith to the point of martyrdom if it comes to that, we need not kneel down in front of such individuals in order to facillitate getting spit on. To the extent that anyone sought out the anti-Catholic protestors it is indeed foolish. It reminds me a little bit of What Christ said about not throwing pearls before swine. Kneeling in front of them and saying the rosary will not inspire them to convert or impress them with our meekness. It will fire them into spasms of demonic rage which for them will be an occassion of greater sin and blasphemy. Or I guess in the case of the gay couple who started making out wild displays of homosexual affection… go figure….. In any case pray for them of course, but do so without a lot of overt displays of religiousity. When in Church among ones fellows, it is laudable to show our submission to God by kneeling, among the unrestrained demoncially possessed, crazy or very evil, best to stay on one’s feet. It is an easier posture from which to escape if attacked or if absolutely necessary to reliate if required for defense of someone else or yourself. Lets not seek out martyrdom, it may every well be forced upon us, but not just yet.

  65. cjcanniff says:

    I am a sophomore at Boston College, and BC led a group of roughly 15 students attending World Youth Day. On my second night in Madrid, I was going to board the metro at the Sol station, but the entire square was blocked off by police due to the problems with protesters. That was the first instance of papal protest that I encountered. Then two nights later, after the pope had presided over the Way of the Cross, I was walking through the streets, and my friends and I encountered a small contingent of protesters who were roughly our own age. They waved gay pride flags and were screaming things in Spanish. We asked another faithful youth who was from Spain to tell us what the protesters were saying. He told us that they were saying some nasty things about the Holy Father. I said a prayer for them, and our group walked away just in case things happened to escalate. It was very upsetting to encounter such hatred, but overall these occasions of protest were isolated. World Youth Day was a joyous celebration for the faithful; the whole experience was immensely edifying.

  66. drea916 says:

    I agree with Richard T.
    Sometimes we do things that seem holy, but it’s actually our pride that is at work. Fraternal correction (and this would be a form of this) is one place where pride can be at work. I’m not required by my Faith to go out and get in these people’s faces and be obnoxious. I AM required to pray for them, but I can do that anywhere. WHY were they getting in their faces? I think it was pride.

  67. benedetta says:

    drea916, Fraternal correction? No that would be between believers. How would just showing up, vulnerable in a small group before a huge crowd, be obnoxious? So just for saying, hello they were asking for, what exactly? Just for being themselves? And who got in whose faces. Anyway what in your opinion was the purpose of the mob that you believed ought to be respected, the message that Catholics should fear walking around the city? Hmmm…

  68. benedetta says:

    Mdepie, They weren’t protesters, nor could it be said really that they are anti-Catholic. They may have been paid to do various things that could get someone arrested. They did seem duped into doing and saying various nonsense (and it was nonsense).

    It’s really a shame that someone made those poor people get so horrendously hateful that they wanted to make the World Youth Day attendees fear for their lives and be humiliated when walking from place to place. But no, why would you accept the premise that they should live in fear and confine their prayers to the church? The Spanish people wanted them there.

    I don’t agree at all with your ‘pearls before swine’ sentiment. Innumerable people may have been converted by the prayers of those few young people. At the very least if I had been in that crowd of spitting haters I would not have been able to continue to deny that what I was doing hurt real human beings.

  69. PM says:

    What the kids did was was not the most prudent thing (and had my daughter been among them I’d perhaps be a little upset): but I admire them for their behavior. I thoroughly enjoyed the account–both for its content and for the Holden Cauldenish style of presentation.

  70. Mdepie says:

    I am not sure I understand your point or that I made myself clear. I would say the WYD participants surely had a right to pray, travel and do whatever they wished, I am not saying they should “confine their prayers to church”. I believe Richard T made a point that the kids may have sought out the anti- Catholic protesters. I was responding to this.

    First it does not matter, whether the kids sought them out or not, that does not give the likes of those in the picture to burn flags, harass or spit on the kids.

    My second point is this: I do not think the spitting haters care one whit about hurting real human beings! I think that is their goal. To the extent that Richard T had a valid point about not confronting these lunatic haters it has nothing to do with not provoking them, etc etc.. it has to do with the fact that such people are unhinged and/or vile and are potentially dangerous. I do not think we want college young people dealing with them unless accompanied by someone with a taser gun. I am not enamored of good kids getting spit on.

    I think the admonition to avoid throwing “Pearls before Swine” is perfect here. Msgr Charles Pope from the Archdiocese of Washington has described this as follow : “Sacred matters, sacred things, wisdom, and participation in sacred things should not be easily offered to those who are incapable of appreciating them. There are those who despise what we call holy. There is little that can be done in such cases except deny them the pleasure of tearing apart holy things or trampling them underfoot.”

    Praying for this people face to face on ones knees seems to be exactly that, it offers these people something holy, that they will only respond to by trampling underfoot.. Prayer is fine but I would approach these people in a manner analogous to how an exorcist approaches the possessed or the psychiatrist approaches the dangerously psychotic.

  71. benedetta says:

    Mdepie, Thanks I think I understand you better now. Many have pointed out that the culture of death is so insatiable and irrational in its demands to claim more and more innocent life that the best way to understand it is as a demonic force. And I also concur with even atheist historians who have agreed that whenever a group unites over hatred towards religious adherents of a particular faith, it reflects a dysfunction at the roots of society, xenophobia, scapegoating.

    That said, a very constructive way to overcome an attempt to dehumanize one religious group through hateful bigoted stereotype is to make known our shared human condition in the form of real faces, real flesh and blood. Group hate tends to dehumanize around stereotype and lies (the chants in the video were lies, not anything of any substance or meaning). The participants in this sort of mobbing feel that there are no victims to what they are doing, and also do not perceive Catholics, having been manipulated and deceived themselves, are fellow human beings like themselves. So the best way to overcome that is in a charitable way to reveal the flesh and blood that we all share. It would be one thing for the disguised person to taunt (and I didn’t read that he did spit on them but it could very well have happened) like I said he was very likely paid to do so thus the need he had to disguise. But for many others even if they remain in their deceived state and convinced of the righteousness of their hatred and attempt to continue to be united to others through that, they will not be able to continue to deny that Catholics are human beings just the same as they themselves are. They will not be able to continue to deny the possibility that their vicious stereotyping and harassment is very harmful, and will have difficulty justifying it, to their peers certainly and then to the wider world, if they attempt to justify it at all.

    Msgr. Pope is right of course that one must recognize who God is and who we are and then present one’s self to the communion of the Church the same as everyone or as a catechumen and can not expect to receive the communion and benefits of grace when one remains outside of the Church or persists in a life of sin or grave error. One must take certain responsible steps as a catechumen, whether formally, or for others of us, somewhat informally. This is an ancient recognition by the Church that growing in the faith is not a transaction and not a one time thing but a constant process requiring obedience to the wisdom of the Church and her authority and making one’s self inwardly disposed to receiving the grace the sacraments of the Church imparts.

    These youth were just walking around as normal people. Not as clergy dispensing sacraments. Not as catechists. People are entitled to go where they wish and pray as they wish without fear. And if they were moved by the Holy Spirit to take a gamble that many parents would rather their sons and daughters not, well, sometimes in this world risks may come even when we do not ask for them, know them ahead of time (hindsight is something different) in detail.

    Indeed some did chase these young people. As others have pointed out that is an assault whether or not they reached or touched them. A certain subgroup of them were willing even to resort to violent methods to further express their hatred.

    Again looking at the full context of what happened factually in the week, the pilgrims were immediately threatened harassed, and intimidated, by grown men, even towards habited nuns at the very start of the week. We can call the harassers what we wish including protesters or anti Catholic since their actions had expression in anti Catholic effect, still none of those labels is based in fact since they chanted hate and lies, there were zero rational or political views expressed, not one leader, no permit applied for with the city, and anarchy has no political views at any rate but just courts and desires mayhem for all, for the point of it. But, it seems, they did wish for the WYD pilgrims (and now we’re talking, 2 million, compared to the harassers, what, 100?) to feel afraid.

    The terms set by evil and hatred from the beginning of the week was fear. Fear for the pilgrims and, fear for the citizens of Madrid who in the HuffPo were very quick to point out to strangers that the sick harassers did not speak for them. The terms set by evil were irrational hatred, dehumanization, humiliation. So, these young people evidently then took a risk, agreed. Now it seems they did note that there was a police presence already with this crowd again who showed up apparently organized as in London via blackberry messenger and not through legitimate organizing, political or any other way. They may have changed their minds had they shown up and seen, no police. But police were there already. That says something in and of itself, a situation of dysfunction at work there which really has nothing at all to do with World Youth Day and a recognition by police of some elements that tend to work against the peace and free movement of the people they serve every day.

    The young people made a decision, probably observing a police presence, to not play by the terms of evil which is to separate human beings one from another and generate hatred. They even showed that the crowd wasn’t so dangerous or to be feared as the big spectacle created earlier in the week was designed to do. As they trusted that they would not be killed by these haters and they were not. The crowd did them a favor and resisted physically harming them. The whole thing is fascinating in that it shows that the evil one time and time again wants human beings to hate one another but that the power of goodness, from God is much much more powerful and cannot be controlled or manipulated. I don’t care what you label what these young people did and I recognize that not every parent wants to know that’s what their son or daughter did as parents will worry but I’m with the young people one hundred percent. There is no way we as Catholics should live in fear of other human beings, no matter what the big spectacle or the organized lies.

  72. benedetta says:

    Mdepie also if you are convinced that public prayer for those who persecute, right in the midst of being surrounded by angry misunderstanding and stereotyping mob is not historically effective in bringing about change of heart in the life of the Church then why not go back and read Acts, as well as the excellent posts on martyrology that Fr. Z has written on this his blog? Public prayer and witness remain just as important, though persecution takes on different forms depending on the circumstances and the whim apparently of the organizer. We may not be martyred but whatever the form of persecution public prayer for those who have been manipulated into committing certain acts is still important. St. Paul would be a good one for intercession.

  73. benedetta says:

    We should recognize also that what those young Catholics did serves all people, diversity itself, whatever one’s beliefs or affiliation. No person should be bullied into fear. We should all be grateful for what they did, dissenters included. I read that 1500 young people in Madrid took the opportunity to pray together at Mass offered in the Extraordinary Form. The preparation in the faith currently offered in many places sadly will support the faith of young people being even unwittingly preyed upon. But young people who are prepared prudentially will be less afraid, less willing to be manipulated as a conduit for others’ unresolved hatred. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be a Catholic approach. But character education, values, respect, they are going to have to be taught clearly and exemplified by adults much more than the last decades.

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