World Youth Day: LGBT youth, abortion, and protesting priests?
Not quite in that order.
Just as in the visit to Great Britain, the papal sojourn in Spain is getting a thumbs down from some Spanish priests (and others) on the grounds that it is too expensive during these cash-strapped times: "“It is scandalous, the price,” said Rev. Eubilio Rodríguez. a pastor in a poor area of Madrid, according to The New York Times . “It is shameful. It discredits the church.” Not sure I ever found this argument convincing, since all those pilgrims spend a lot of money, a plus for a depressed economy. (Unlike the G8 and NATO summit Chicago will be hosting next year! Argh....)
On the abortion front: The UK Guardian reported yesterday  that, as a "concession," the diocese hosting World Youth Day will allow any priest to remove the penalty of excommunication from anyone who confesses an abortion. "Normally, only certain priests have the power to lift such an excommunication, but the local diocese has decided to give all the priests taking confession at the event this power," said the pope's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi. This is kind of a weird one: Abortion is one of those sins for which the penalty is latae sententiae excommunication (you're out because you committed the act, not because a bishop said you were), and it usually requires the bishop to lift the penalty. But I think it's fairly common for bishops to delegate that authority. What confessor would want to have to run and call the bishop in the middle of a confession?
And finally, LGBT youth at WYD: Not sure how many will be there, but the Equally Blessed coalition  (Dignity/USA, New Ways Ministry, Fortunate Families, and Call to Action) sent Nicole Sotelo of Chicago and Emily Jendzejec of Boston to WYD to advocate for gay and lesbian youth at teach-ins and prayer vigils. Don't know how much success they will have, but given the fact that the church is against bullying and "unjust" discrimination (even if the bishops spend most of their time denouncing same-sex marriage), I'm glad there will be at least two people there reminding everyone that there are indeed GLBT youth in the church.