Wednesday, August 20, 2014

At Youth Mass, Pope Francis Gets Rock-Star Treatment

At Youth Mass, Pope Francis Gets Rock-Star Treatment

Wall Street Journal | August 17, 2014

What do you get when you mix thousands of young people from all over Asia and Pope Francis? A sort of Catholic Woodstock.

With the 77-year-old pontiff presiding over the closing Mass for Asian Youth Day, the soundtrack for Sunday’s two-hour service at Haemi Fortress in western Korea was filled from beginning to end with the kind of drum fills, slap bass and synthesizer runs associated with an actual rock concert — or at the very least, an evangelical Protestant megachurch. There was even an electric guitar solo as Pope Francis led the congregants in Communion.

The mood was buoyant, helped by rain that left the fortress grounds damp and muddy, but which cleared just in time for the Pope’s arrival. The 2,000-odd young Catholics from across the continent — many of them wearing bright teal rain ponchos over lime green polo shirts — waved national flags, chanted like soccer fans and accompanied the hymns and worship songs with coordinated hand motions.

Unlike the Pope’s previous two Masses, few women covered their heads with veils and more than a few attendees had tattoos. When the big screens zoomed in on worshippers, many obliged with heart signs and goofy peace signs — even during the Holy Father’s homily.

And the Pope, who drew laughter for his playfully forceful appeal for Asia’s youth to “wake up,” was treated to spontaneous bursts of “Francesco, we love you!”