Pope Benedict XVI has been in Australia since the weekend and has already performed his first miracle. The tribulations of Basil Iemma and Manuel Costa have disappeared from the front pages. There’s a very good chance that the next installment of Fawlty Powers won’t be appearing until after World Youth Day has concluded. For this we should all be thankful.
Although it is early days yet, it also appears that another miracle is occurring. The early indications are that the public transport system is running smoothly, delivering passengers safely to their destinations on time. It’s reminiscent of the magnificent success of the Olympic Games in 2000 when the public transport system ran to a special timetable so well that Sydneysiders were asking “Why can’t it always be like this?” I have already heard the same question being asked now.
Despite the critics who wondered why so much money was being spent on a religious festival, and who suggested that no one would turn up, it already looks like World Youth Day will be a towering success, not only for the Catholic Church, but for the state of New South Wales. The money expended is an investment in the future, for both the state and the church. The benefits will be with us for a long time to come. With a bit of luck one of those benefits might be the realization that public transport can actually work well when it is given sufficient resources.
The success of World Youth Day will be a great achievement for the New South Wales government. But by this time next week it will all be over, and you can bet that the tabloid campaign to topple the Iemma government will resume. If it doesn’t, that really will be a miracle.