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The August Fair

Charitable groups plan to send giant TV screens, so that the people in the shantytowns outside Madrid, and even perhaps the famine-stricken in the Horn of Africa, will not have to miss the pope's three masses

After the expulsion of the Indignation movement, the Church people now have Madrid's Puerta del Sol as clean as a fresh platter. Benedict XVI once described Spain as "a vineyard devastated by the boars of secularism." Now these boars, whose anti-papal march is to be kept out of the way, will not spoil the procession of His Holiness. The World Youth Day, which, according to Church spokesmen, will bring more than a million "pilgrims" to Madrid, is supported not only by a copious budget of the taxpayer's money, but by the efforts of Opus Dei, the Legionaries of Christ the King and an array of other Catholic organizations. Yea, surely the spiritual and material blessings of the pope's visit shall fall upon Madrid like rain in a dry season.

Certain charitable groups plan to send giant TV screens, so that the people in the shantytowns outside Madrid, and even perhaps the famine-stricken faithful in the Horn of Africa, will not have to miss the pope's three masses, and his Way of the Cross procession.

Meanwhile, we hear complaints of the Spanish Church's practice of exploiting a legal loophole (a clause in the land-registry legislation enacted by the right-wing government of Aznar in 1999) to register common lands in the name of the Church. These include parking lots and vineyards, presumably not yet devastated by the boars of secularism.

As Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo (a reactionary Catholic historian) once put it: "The Church, having the God-given right to exist on the earth as a priestly body, also has the indisputable right to partake of temporal properties, and to increase its patrimony [...] while, once acquired, these holdings cannot be taken from it without offense to divine and natural precept."

The whining complaints of the godless are as the yapping of little dogs in the face of this thunderous truth.

We have been hearing a great deal about the havoc wrought in young people's lives by cuts in educational budgets, unemployment and so forth. But what about the poison instilled in young people's hearts by the godless, who wish to drive God out of their lives and consciences, and to convert man's soul into an empty recipient? The property damage caused by urban vandalism is measurable - but with what yardstick are we to measure the damage wrought to the spiritual life of a society that turns its back on divine law, and to the teachings of Holy Mother Church? Come, dear reader, to the papal mass in the Almudena, and to his Way of the Cross in Recoletos; confess in the portable confessionals installed in the Retiro park, and your trust in the future will be reborn.

If the papal festivities do not convince you, which way are you to go? We live in stormy times, and the right choice is not easy to make. The last time I was in Barcelona, a man of my age came up to my table in a restaurant. We had been classmates in the religious school where we were indoctrinated, but since that time we had not met. "So," he said to me, "are you going to go on living in Arab countries, amid a lot of Taliban with beards and turbans? Think of the bomb they set off in Marrakesh... [where I live] ...At my age, all I want is peace and quiet. My wife and I are going on a Norway cruise this summer, then we'll spend a few days in a hotel in Soho not far from Oxford Circus."

I hope his stay in burning London was a peaceful one. If you look at it rightly, to attend the pope's masses and Way of the Cross in Madrid is the best solution for the summer!

Like Martin Luther King, I had a dream. Anders Breivik, the Norway killer, was giving a press conference. All the people in the room, cheering him on, were from racially pure, xenophobic groups - true Finns, true Scots, true Serbs, true Basques. They were scowling at me - they thought my t-shirt was not a true Armani. Then I showed my card that proved I had attended the papal mass, and they left me alone.

As for the sovereign debt crisis, there seems to be no pharmaceutical product to tranquilize the markets. All we can do is pray.

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