We have $162,320 to go in our Fall Campaign. Every penny is used to strengthen the Church. See details!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

take the over

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 20, 2010

Reflecting on the papal visit, the New York Times reports:

The size of the crowds, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and finally Birmingham, appeared to surprise Catholic leaders here.

If you're surprised now by the crowds at a papal event, I'm afraid you're not too quick on the uptake. It's been a rule of thumb for 30-odd years; the crowds are always larger than expected. When organizers anticipated a crowd of 300,000 for one of those thrilling appearances by Pope John Paul II, 750,000 people would show up. When they expected 1 million, there would be 2 million. 

Then along came Benedict XVI, who doesn't have the same charisma and stage presence as his predecessor. All the self-appointed experts confidently said that the crowds assembling for papal audiences would thin out. They didn't; they grew. Still the experts didn't learn. When the Pope traveled abroad, they predicted smaller crowds. Wrong again. A week before Pope Benedict arrived in Britain, journalists were saying that it would be a struggle to fill the seats. It wasn't. 

If Las Vegas ever offers an over/under proposition on the size of crowds at papal events, take the over, every time. 

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($162,320 to go):
$200,000.00 $37,679.72
81% 19%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 24, 2010 9:49 AM ET USA

    I think Pope John Paul II's triumph over communism in a both theoretical and practical sense was "someone else's problem". Pope Benedict has to address "our problem": materialism and de-Christianization. That should have everyone's attention now.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Sep. 23, 2010 10:52 AM ET USA

    It's not stage presence; it's not theological brilliance: It's the power of God who works through the small and the lowly and puts the mighty to shame.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 21, 2010 2:21 PM ET USA

    One suspects that the reason for this observed phenomenon is that the estimates are based on the wishful thinking of those in the media who do the estimating.

  • Posted by: mae - Sep. 21, 2010 2:21 PM ET USA

    JP2's charism is often cited to explain the huge crowds he drew. The cold war was, however, also an important part of the context. As for his 1982 visit to the UK, let's also remember that Poland was under martial law... An interesting parallel to make, I think, is that a lot of the media coverage B16 gets -- The Guardian comes to mind in particular -- is reminiscent of the kind that JPII got behind the iron curtain...

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Sep. 20, 2010 9:17 PM ET USA

    It is not just that the Servant of God Venerable John Paul II possessed better stage presence than Benedict XVI. While the current pontiff is a wonderful man and a great theologian, the power of the Resurrected Christ shown out from John Paul II as God's gift to him and us for his total surrender of self to the Gospel.

Fall Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

A secret plot to control the Synod? No; it's not secret at all. 4 hours ago
What about Catholic affirmation for those in false marriages? 5 hours ago
Free eBook: Pope Francis' Catechesis on the Family October 7
The headlines say Gov. Brown is Catholic. He says he's not sure what that means. October 7
Archbishop predicts Synod won't change Church teaching. Why am I not reassured? October 7

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
In Cuba, Pope emphasizes service to the vulnerable, praises thaw in US-Cuban relations CWN - September 21
Pope challenges America in speech to US Congress CWN - September 24
As Synod opens, Pope calls on Church to defend ‘unity and indissolubility’ of marriage bond CWN - October 5