Monday, 14 July 2008

God and Mammon - Catholic World Youth Day souvenirs

Once upon a time, the churches opposed retail trading on Sundays. Once upon a time, Mammon was regarded as a false god.

Times change and every large event needs its official merchandising arm.

The merchandising tent in Hyde Park associated with Catholic World Youth Day was doing roaring business on Sunday- everything from national flags, to Benedict XVI baseball caps, t-shirts, hoodies, and not to forget Aussie flag boxer shorts and thongs, and ugg boots.
Screens were set up inside the shop showing Guy Sebastian, a former Australian Idol winner performing his WYD anthem. Sony his music distributor is flogging his latest CD (Nashville songs) as well as the anthem. Sebastian is a member of Protestant Pentecostalist sect, Hillsong.

One Catholic group is protesting against the merchandise. Click here for full story.

"Alan Hockey and Michael Gravener - who help run the Share the Meal charitable group at St Vincent's Catholic Church in Redfern - said yesterday that they wanted to voice their protest against the commercialisation of World Youth Day.
Mr Gravener inspected official "I Love Jesus" T-shirts while wearing an orange T-shirt he had bought online, saying: "Where is Jesus in WYD08?"
"This is actually one of the first times I've actually seen Jesus mentioned in the whole promotion of the event," he said.
Mr Hockey said he would not buy any of the official merchandise."They're selling Guy Sebastian CDs but no one has stopped to ask what he actually practises. He's not Catholic - he's from the Hillsong Church and there's a big difference. We're Catholic and we will protest against anything that doesn't put Jesus at the centre of the faith." "


  1. Fascinating collage of lovely photos, Sally. Interesting subject. I too have posted on religion today - the Jesus ladies on Menton!

  2. Most Swiss still seem to oppose Sunday retailing. Only in transit centers is it allowed and some of those areas have become mini-malls in a way.

  3. I am trying to avoid this event where possible. Although on my way to and from Cockatoo Island yesterday, the Pilgrims were everywhere and very identifiable. I might be tempted out - on foot - to the vicinity of the Mass on Thursday for candid shots. I agree with the thrust of your post.

  4. I thought the selection of souveniers was rather poor, pretty tacky mostly and nothing out of the ordinary. Yet to see how this week develops. Very, very quiet right now. Sort of a calm befor the storm feeling.

    How did you do the collage (or whatever its called)?

  5. I like the collage but not being catholic Sally, this event is wasted on me. Very important to some though.

  6. Nathalie in Avignon15 July, 2008 15:20

    Sally congratulations on this excellent post. I find it fascinating. Is being a Catholic so different to being a Protestant Pentecostalist? If so, in what ways?

    Is is OK to buy a Benedict XVI baseball shirt? (it's hilarious !!!)

    Who benefits from the merchandising? How much to the church ? How much to private profit-making companies?

    All these questions are worth asking. I hope you post more about WYD.

  7. These days are not they not organized only for the merchandise.

    Good courage, because when the pope appears, all must stop

  8. Nathalie! How could you ask ???? Wars have been fought over the difference between Protestant and Catholic sects :-) Pentecostalists are fundamentalist Protestants I guess.

    As far as I can work out (coming from neither area) the differences range from acceptance of the pope’s infallibility to the obvious like celibacy, and in church transubstantiation which doesn’t exist in Protestantism. And very important things like in the Lord’s prayer, Catholics say “…who art in heaven” and Protestant “…which art…”, disagreements about whether Mary and Joseph had other children....

    Merchandising. Strange you should ask.. I read this in today’s paper: “ Our sales have been growing between 20 and 50 percent every day since we opened last Saturday.” Said John Cooper, chief executive of Event management Group, which is handling all the merchandising.
    “It’s going a bit better than we had optimistically hoped for.”
    Among the top sellers were Guy Sebastian albums, flags, “widgets” (souvenir charms) T-shirts and Pope-adorned memorabilia such as rosary beads and jerseys.
    EMG will share an undisclosed amount of the profits with the World Youth Day organisers.”

  9. PS I'll try to post more, but quite frankly I find many of the photo ops really, really boring. I took a whole heap on Sunday in Hyde park, and in the end, people in groups with flags wrapped around them didn't turn out too well! But there is more this week....