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WYD at Cologne:
No Sign that the Tide Has Turned

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

My friend Jan thought that the tide was turning in favor of tradition because she heard that priest and youth representatives of the Juventutem group would be “permitted” to assist daily at a 7 a.m. Latin Mass at World Youth Day in Cologne. Juventutem, by the way, describes itself peculiarly on its website as “young people attached to the tridentine liturgy (Mass of St. Pius V).”

I don’t like to be the one to dash water on these bright hopes, but I think it is prudent to first analyze the situation, then make a judgment. That is what I intend to do here. So, what is proposed for the WYD in Cologne?

Gen Rosso perform at a rock concert

Gen Rosso, an international rock group promoting world unity
As far as it is accurate, the program recently published on the WYD Cologne official website promises that the four-day-meeting will be another flamboyant rock, rap, and jive festival. A slate of rock/pop shows are scheduled, featuring everything from African drums and Brazilian rock to “hip hop Christian pop rock” and whirling dervishes. Yes, whirling dervishes. I’m not making that up.

You can experience “Reggae, punk, funk, and rap,” or else, “Stop, Drop and Rock and Roll at WYD.” There is “audio sport for young people who like to party.” The program points in the direction of another grand party. In simple words, another “Woodstock,” or perhaps, “Popestock” as the media have described former events.

There is, however, a more dangerous aspect to the WYD in Cologne. It is the bad doctrine it embodies and teaches from beginning to end.

The official motto of the event is “We have come to worship Him.” But it is clear from the WYD website and literature that all - from any religion, or even no religion at all – are all invited to worship “Him” anyway that they so choose. “He” can be the false god of Judaism or Islam, the devil spirits of the shamans and native Americans, the multi-deities of the Hindus and Buddhists.

WYD makes no secret it is inviting youth of all “faith traditions” to experience the God in their midst, to join together to aim for a united world. The motto of the WYD permeating all the events is “unity in diversity.” Everything is turned toward inter-confessional co-existence in a united world. No one needs to change or convert anyone else, so long as we all love and serve each other.

This stands in direct opposition to Catholic doctrine, which teaches that there is only one true Faith Also, it does away with the Church's mark of militancy. The militancy of the Holy Church comes from idea of opposition between truth and error, good and evil. Because she is the guardian of the true Faith, the Catholic Church always taught the youth to fight against error and heresies. She forbade participation in inter-religious services because she always considered the worship of the false religions as a parody and offense to God. She insisted that the true Faith should be taught energetically, that conversion to the one holy Catholic Church is a necessary step to salvation.

Instead, the youth who attend WYD are offered “a diverse spiritual program” that implies heretics, schismatics, Jews and pagans do not need to be converted. the new WYD catechism teaches that other “faith communities” are part of a strange, all-encompassing “Church of Christ,” which would be larger and broader than the Catholic Church. It is difficult for young people to really believe that the Catholic Church is still the One, Catholic, Apostolic Church when they are being told that the false religions are equally efficacious in saving souls. This is the doctrinal message at WYD in Cologne.

The White Rose exhibit and Colourdome

It is expected that a popular item this year will be the White Rose Martyr exhibit, which holds up youth of “different faith backgrounds” as “student martyrs.” The White Rose Society was a WWII-era resistance group in Munich calling for nonviolent resistance against the Nazi regime. Caught distributing leaflets, the five students and their professor were tried, convicted of treason and executed. Two students were German Protestants, one was Russian “orthodox,” one was Catholic, another became Catholic before he died, and the teacher was a diehard National Socialist who was protesting only because he thought Hitler had gone too far. The exhibit will present them all as martyrs and “models of faith.”

A photograph of two a young soldier and a young woman with a white flower

The White Rose presents Protestants Hans and Sophie School as martyrs
If you know your Catholic catechism, you are asking, as I did: “How can heretics, schismatics and national-socialists be presented as martyrs, that is, as ones who gave their blood in defense of the Catholic Faith?

Unfortunately, many Catholic youth today do not know the basic tenets of our Faith, and they can become confused by the exhibit and the explanations offered by Catholic Prelates. “They fought to defend the dignity of man and religion in face of Nazism,” explains Msgr. Helmut Moll of Cologne, theological consultor of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. “These martyrs are real models of faith who have something to say to all our young people” (Zenit, July 25, 2005).

What Msgr. Moll is saying directly contradicts Catholic teaching about martyrs. What the White Rose exhibit teaches youth is that anyone of any religion can go straight to Heaven by dying not for the Catholic Faith, but simply for a cause, or in defense of the dignity of man. To call schismatics, heretics and national-socialists “models of faith” is absurd, because they do not have the Faith. What the White Rose exhibit tells our young people is that there can be “saints” who are not Catholic, that there is salvation outside the Catholic Church.

Another bold ecumenical project anticipated to be popular among youth is the Colourdome. An initative of the inter-denominational group Youth for a United World, the Colourdome is supposed to be a meeting place, a place dedicated to dialogue. Youth will be invited to communicate their experiences of God’s love inside the dome and see how their contact with “Love” is reflected in one of the seven colors of the rainbow. The orange prism is for dialogue, the blue for culture, the yellow for suffering and sickness, and so on. The unifying factor is experiences that bring together youth for the stated purpose of working for a united world.

Americans sitting in a circle with muslims

Above, exchanging experiences with Muslims at WYD in Canada
So, once again, the youth are taught that the only crucial idea is unity. But the road leading to unity does not pass through the conversion of all people to the Catholic Church. Rather, it is an acceptance of the common points of the true and the false religions – which are very few – in order to attain an all-embracing unity.

Variants of Colourdome’s theme of unity permeate the whole WYD program: Unity in diversity. Bring the earth together. The whole world will become home. Living for a united world.

It is clearly a grand pan-religious event, a kind of Assisi for youth, where everyone has an altar to worship, this time, even the Latin-Mass Catholics.

Promoting religious indifference

What is the important “lesson” to be learned from WYD, whether you attend the African tribal ceremonies or assist at the Latin Mass? It is to accept everyone – regardless of belief. It is a very seducing message for the modern youth: to be nonjudgmental, to accept everyone for what he or she is, to embrace dialogue as a means to build bridges between religions.

Boxes and hippies at World Youth Day

Above among the boxes, an immoral, hippy atmosphere at WYD 2002.   Below, priests in rainbow vestments singing Broadway style set an example for the party.

Rainbow vested priests singing at World Youth Day
Immersed in that atmosphere of false tolerance for error, will the youth – even the more traditional-minded ones “attached to the tridentine liturgy” – emerge unscathed by the religious indifferentism that the WYD program so blatantly promotes? It is highly unlikely, in my opinion.

Before he was elected Pontiff, more than once Cardinal Ratzinger denounced relativism as the central problem of the faith today. Now, as Pope, he continues to speak of the widespread religious indifference that exists in Western societies. At the same time, quite paradoxically, he has announced his wholehearted commitment to support and further the ecumenism of Vatican II, which has fueled the increasing relativism and religious indifference of the last 40 years. For example, while in Cologne he will visit the synagogue there (more on this topic) as well as “dialogue” with representatives of the Muslim groups there.

How can the one denounce religious indifferentism on one hand, and, on the other, support events like WYD where the Faith is absolutely relativized. It is a contradictory message.

I don’t think the tide has turned yet, Jan. The waves continue to flow in the same direction established by post-conciliar revolution in the Church: toward the destruction of the Catholic Faith and replacement with a new theology which proposes that the union of all men is possible despite the different religious professions.

Benedict XVI, following in the footsteps of JPII, continues to promote the pacifist climate of dialogue, which implies a denial of the militancy of the Catholic Faith. The logical bad fruit of these concessions is a pan-religion, the goal of conciliar ecumenism, which is presented as an imperative of unity, parallel to the Universal Republic planned by the UN in the temporal sphere.


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Posted on August 1, 2005

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