World Youth Day launched at midnight, hailing the start of a week long international Catholic extravaganza featuring song, dance, theatre and philosophical debate alongside sermons, mass mass and appearances by megastar Pope Benedict XVI.

While his Holiness clearly steals the limelight, the plethora of religiously inspired performances by international Catholic musicians is set to stun and amaze even unbelievers.

Most gigs are already booked out, but the online miracle entertainer YouTube can provide stay at home WYD fans a taste of the music lineup.

Headlining acts include Fr Stan Fortuna, a rapping Franciscan priest from New York who looks like Jesus and sounds like Eminem — with fewer references to g-nital h-rpes and his mother:

Indian R & B, classical, rock/pop and reggae super group Rexband are taking time out from their permanent world tour to entertain the masses in Sydney. Rexband shows last three hours, integrating music, choreography and contemporary theatre performances by Living Vision, a premier Christian theatre initiative:

The real hippies of the bunch are Italian based multinational drumming, rapping and dance group Gen Rosso. Not specifically Catholic, the themes of Gen Rosso performances include violence, cultural integration and peace. This is what you call “world music”:

Highlighting the Catholic themes of redemption and forgiveness is former English drug dealer and gangster John Pridmore . A travelling preacher who lives by the grace of God, Pridemore has written a book about his experiences called A Gangster’s Guide to God. He is also blogging about his experiences down under.

Pridmore will perform his life story supported by The Bronx Brothers (Franciscan Friars of the Renewal New York).

Even if you’re not a fan of Christian themed music there are any number of public forums, theatre and lectures about the church, s-x, violence, chastity and youth in the modern world to check out. Or alternatively you could just sit back and watch those young pilgrims go nuts.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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