Where have all the pilgrims gone?

Where have all the pilgrims gone?

Like pop stars wearing crucifixes and dabbling in Jewish spirituality, yet another staple of traditional religious belief has been turned into just another pop-culture event. The oldest Catholic pilgrimage, the annual six-week journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain has become hip and trendy and devoid of its Catholic meaning for many of those making the trip. Jenna Bush made the trip recently. Lou Reed and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are holding concerts in Santiago at the end of the pilgrimage.

As Spaniards - like many other western Europeans - replace their traditional Catholic worldviews with an inclusive, non-institutional “spirituality,” official religion no longer provides the glue that has long served to define national identities, and structure public mores. Indeed, as was evident in the European Union’s recent decision to purge reference to Europe’s “Christian heritage” from its constitution, “secular religion” is now widely accepted as the norm in communal and public life.

So-called “secular religion” is not religion at all, but a pastiche of pseudo-religious beliefs covering a real emptiness and a desire to justify that which would normally be called immoral.

  • >>>Like pop stars wearing crucifixes and dabbling in Jewish spirituality, yet another staple of traditional religious belief has been turned into just another pop-culture event. <<<

    Reminds me of an encounter with a Sister, who was not wearing a habit. 

    N:“How does one know you are a nun?”

    Sister:  “By the large crucifix I have pinned to my blouse”

    N: “What does that mean.  Even Madonna wears a large crucifix.”

  • Let hard times come again and sooner or later they will, the days of the locust will pass and the pilgrimages will be made with sincere pleading.  So many countries are filled with bored, lazy, hyperactive (no contradiction), and overly pampered citizens that they are in need of constant stimulation.  The Church reflects the state of these societies, by and large, and is not the leader, the shepherd that it should be.  It, too, will face times that will try men’s souls.

  • If you want to do a real :comment_author>
    2004-07-23 19:49:48
    2004-07-23 23:49:48
    Ah, to be in Ireland!

    (Although I understand I’m as welcome as the flowers in May in dear old Donegal…)

    Kelly <——and where’s the girl ye used to swing down on the garden gate? wink

  • That’s not new, Domenic.  St. Peter’s is host to secular tour groups by the hundreds every day.  It’s on all the “16 cities in a week” type tours, etc.

  • It’s not new for tour groups to show up at the shrines. What’s new is that people are pretending to walk the pilgrimage and the Church is pretending that they’re real pilgrims.

  • does anyone knwo that old movie with the convict hiding out as a priest in Rome? I remember that near the end of the movie there was that scene inside St. Peter’s Basilica with pleasantly cacophonous echoes of pilgrims singing different Marian hymns at the same time (Immaculate Mary, O Sanctissima, etc.)  And at the very end the convict joins a silent order. Anyone know this one?

  • Art,
    I wish I did…sounds like a good one. This “pilgrimage” mess reminds me a bit of what has happened to St. Patrick’s day celebrations, at least in Savannah, GA, near where I live. There is a parade, in which the diocese participates, and a Mass is celebrated at the Cathedral in honor of St. Patrick. All well and good. However, this is all listed in the “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Schedule” which includes a massive, raunchy party down at River Street, where you can buy bead necklaces with plastic marijuana leaves instead of shamrocks and t-shirts with naked women’s bosoms printed on them (strange, but men like to wear them), and of course there’s lots of drinking and sex (in public in the middle of the day). Then the fundamentalist types walk through with a black “Jack Chick style” sign that says “REPENT!” (we went down there once without knowing what we were getting ourselves into). Why the Church doesn’t just make some very public statement disassociating herself from all this lewdness, I don’t know.

  • Wait…I googled….the title was “When in Rome” (1952)….

    The Olsen twins apparently had a movie in 2002 with the same title, btw.

  • No.  There is a difference between:

    1) doctrinal right and wrong, and
    2) pragmatic politics.

    The Catholic Church in America is enmeshed in pragmatic politics because it’s in America, after all.  But we have a few bishops now who have been willing to break the logjam and talk about doctrinal right and wrong.  This guy is trying to derail that back into being pragmatic poltics.

    The Church still does have the right (and responsibility) to talk about right and wrong, no matter what anyone says.

    Pragmatic politics doesn’t talk about right and wrong.  It talks about what can be managed and what can “fly” in the court of public opinion.  That’s entirely different from talking about truths.

  • Perhaps michigancatholic is able to discern a “pragmatic politics” direction in th author’s message. I certainly don’t. In reality the only political points are in the responses of bishops such as Ricard and the majority of “Sheperds” who have ignored an admoishment by our Lord, “To feed my sheep.”  Catholics are being short changed in their worship by those who would be apostles. The Church has always instructed us never to approach the altar of God with serious sin, less we be guilty of the Blood of Christ.  But, no more . . . Things have changed haven’t they? It’s not politics, it’s faith.

  • I hate to splash a bit of water on this whole story, but itcoded>
    2004-07-23 14:07:09
    2004-07-23 18:07:09


    2004-07-26 10:10:44
    2004-07-26 14:10:44
    Right on Dom! We’ve truly been betrayed by those who would be our shepherds. Does anyone else but me see these guys as nothing but wolves in sheeps clothing? (Not all, but many)

  • Correct, Richard.  It should not be politics.  That is the point. 

    But we live in the USA and that makes it difficult to escape politics in everything.  We eat, sleep and breathe it, unfortunately.

    That and lawsuits are the ever-hovering constants for many people here.