The Catholic youth festival that reportedly gathered up to 1.5 million people in Lisbon this weekend is facing criticism after photos of how the Holy Eucharist was stored were released online.
Pope Francis closed World Youth Day 2023, the first edition of the Catholic event since the pandemic with an outdoor Mass attended by 1.5 million at riverside park on Sunday, while tens of thousands of pilgrims participated in the events first Holy Mass on 1st August.
Some Catholics have criticised the practise of large-scale Mass at the event, after pictures on social media showed the Eucharist being stored in plastic containers. Photos show a number of plastic boxes (thought to contain the Eucharist) placed on a table, under a tent, beside two candles.
Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament at World Youth Day. pic.twitter.com/QQWkZUgyeN— Father V (@father_rmv) August 6, 2023
Catholics believe in transubstantiation - that the bread and wine used in communion becomes the literal body and bread of Christ. Therefore, some attendees found the “irreverent” storing of it in “cheap boxes” to be “sacrilegious” while others have called for mass distribution of Holy Communion to be banned.
Nick Donnelly posted one such photo on Twitter, commenting: “This is how they reserved the Blessed Sacrament in Lisbon.
“WYD commits untold outrages, sacrileges and offences against Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament It should be banned All enormous gatherings for Mass should be banned if they cannot show basic reverence to Our Lord,” he added.
Another Twitter user commented “Tupperware tabernacle” on the photo, while another dubbed it “unbelievably sacrilegious/godless.”
— Nick Donnelly (@ProtecttheFaith) August 7, 2023
This is how they reserved the Blessed Sacrament in Lisbon
WYD commits untold outrages, sacrileges and offences against Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament
It should be banned
Catholics in support of the event argued the storage containers were a practical and respectful option, given the circumstances and that people were given the opportunity to pray and adore Jesus before them.
Speaking on Twitter, Father Sean Gough said: “These posts are so infuriating. You’d think the Lord was being kept in the plastic bag on the floor! If u’re going to complain, at least propose a better idea for distributing Communion to 1.5 million people spread over many square kilometres!!”
Gough continued to explain that the Eucharist was being kept inside a tent, on a table, with an alter cloth, plant and candles, stating that “Jesus was being loved and adored throughout.”
These posts are so infuriating. You’d think the Lord was being kept in the plastic bag on the floor!— Fr Sean Gough (@FrSeanDGough) August 7, 2023
If u’re going to complain, at least propose a better idea for distributing Communion to 1.5 million people spread over many square kilometres!!
This is what I saw, first hand… https://t.co/FGLpZGuXCk pic.twitter.com/6toMjti6KZ
Premier has reached out to WYD organisers for a response.