Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Numbers Don't Lie ... Well, maybe...

I’ve been somewhat amused at the views of the secular media regarding the Pope’s visit to Brazil. Most interesting have been the apparent attempts to characterize the visit as a failure. Indicative of this is the “low turn out” comments in various media.

Note the following excerpts* (added emphases, mine) about the turn out for Sunday's Mass “near Sao Paulo” at the Basilica in Aparecida.

Although about 200,000 people attended Pope Benedict’s final Mass near Sao Paulo on Sunday, it was less than half the number predicted by Church officials. Analysts say the low turnout reflects the waning influence of the Church and the weaker star appeal of this Pope, compared to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
The Telegraph

The pope called the region the ``continent of hope'' during a Sunday Mass before 150,000 faithful in front of the mammoth basilica of Aparecida home to the nation's patron saint, a black Virgin Mary.

But the turnout fell far short of the 400,000 to 500,000 worshippers local organizers hoped would show up for Benedict's last big public event of the papal tour, his longest since becoming pope two years ago.

The Guardian

``This is the faith that has made Latin America the 'continent of hope,''' Benedict told the crowd of nearly 150,000 gathered outside the mammoth basilica of Aparecida.

The turnout fell far short of the 400,000 to 500,000 worshippers local organizers had hoped would show up for Benedict's last public event of his five-day trip in Brazil, the largest Roman Catholic nation in the world.

The Guardian (again)
In case you failed to understand the impact of these numbers on the Pope's standings for the popularity contest, the following report gives you numbers for comparison!

The crowds that the pope drew during his visit were large, but not overwhelming by Brazilian standards. His largest event -- an outdoor Mass on Friday morning -- drew 600,000 to 800,000, short of the 1 million expected. Sunday's Mass in Aparecida, about 100 miles from Sao Paulo, also drew a far smaller crowd than the half-million expected.

In contrast, police estimated that an annual parade organized by evangelical Protestant churches last year drew 1 million, a gay pride parade in Sao Paulo drew about 3 million, and a free Rolling Stones concert in Rio de Janeiro last year drew an estimated 1.5 million spectators.

Washington Post

On Sunday morning, only a third of the 500,000 people anticipated by church officials attended an open-air Mass led by the pope in front of the city’s massive basilica, known as the world’s largest devoted to the Virgin Mary.
McClatchy Washington Bureau

Only about 150,000 people came to this rural Brazilian town for Benedict's final Mass. The open-air celebration took place at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida, a shrine to a black Virgin Mary who is the country's patron saint.

The pope told the crowd that only faith in God and the church can give them hope: "Not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic system." Flags from various Latin American countries dotted the crowd, which was boisterous but a small fraction of what organizers had predicted. Nuns in dark habits held aloft icons of the Madonna and entire families wore matching T-shirts blazoned with pictures of saints. And this being Brazil, there were plenty of bare mid-rifts, low-cut tank tops and tight pants.

Los Angeles Times

Emerson Rossi, 50, who walked 400 kilometers from his hometown of Jundiai to attend Sunday's closing mass in Aparecida, as part of his church group Caminho da Fe (Walk of Faith), summed up Benedict's challenge of being in the shadow of his predecessor. "John Paul was a phenomenon. [Benedict] is normal," he said. "John Paul was a charismatic, he was about emotions. We Brazilians are about emotions." The concluding mass drew just 150,000 worshipers, far short of the hundreds of thousand of pilgrims who arrive at the same shrine for the annual mass to commemorate the Virgin Mary.
Time Magazine

The Brazilian Army estimated the crowd that filled the patio alongside the massive basilica here at 150,000 people, far short of the one million that Vatican Radio had predicted.
International Herald Tribune
Oh dear! Only 150,000 to 200,000 travelled 100 miles to a shrine to join the Holy Father for Mass!

And the man who walked 400 Kilometers, probably would not have come if the distance had been 405 kilometers. (He was just out for his morning constitutional anyway!)

And that there were many who obviously ignored the dress-code indicates there must have been a bunch of those young whipper-snappers present! (Hey, don't they only count as 3/5 of an adult?)

And the Washington Post puts the nails in the coffin by revealing that the Mass on Friday was attended by only "600,000 to 800,000", which was "short of the 1 million expected", and which makes the Sunday turnout seem even worse!!!

I wonder how these reporters would have 'spun' Woodstock! Obviously, the Hendrix performance exposes Woodstock as a failure that couldn't attract a good-sized crowd. What a letdown! Very few in attendance and they were so terribly messy!

* Hat Tip to Catholic World News, who originally linked to all of these stories!

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