Pope Benedict XVITHE Pope has christened Australia the “great southern land of the Holy Spirit” and urged young people troubled by the state of the world to seek answers in faith.

Pope Benedict made the comments in his official message to Australians and to pilgrims for World Youth Day, released to The Sunday Telegraph to coincide with his arrival today for the week-long Catholic youth festival.

The Pope’s plane, Shepherd One, touched down in Darwin for a brief refuelling stop shortly after 9am ACST (9.30am AEST).  After picking up Darwin’s bishop, who brought the pontiff a painting of an Aboriginal Madonna and child, the flight to Sydney resumed.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier Morris Iemma will meet the 81-year-old when the papal plane touches down at Richmond Air Force Base, on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts, at 3pm (AEST) this afternoon.

He will then rest for three days at a rural retreat at nearby Kenthurst before his first appearance at World Youth Day on Thursday in a papal “boat-a-cade” on Sydney Harbour.

More than 200,000 young Catholics are descending on Sydney to take part in World Youth Day events, putting religion centre stage for a week in Australia’s biggest city and putting rail and road systems to their sternest test since the 2000 Olympic Games.

In a message prepared in advance of his arrival, Pope Benedict thanked all who had supported the event, including the NSW and federal governments.  Together, the State and federal governments have contributed more than $100 million to bring Australia one of the biggest events in the world.

The Pope said that although he could not travel outside Sydney, his thoughts and prayers would be with all Australians around the country.

“My heart reaches out to all of you, including those who are sick or in difficulties of any kind,” the Pope said.

Consistent with his teachings since becoming Pope, he singled out the lack of hope felt by many young people as one of the main problems facing the world.

He said the young longed to find solutions to poverty and injustice, were challenged by the arguments of atheists, and worried about the impact of human greed on the environment

“Where can we look for answers? The Spirit points us towards the way that leads to life, to love and to truth. The Spirit points us towards Jesus Christ.”

He renewed his invitation for young people to join him in the great “southern land of the Holy Spirit”, noting that many had made great sacrifices to attend.

Carnival crowd

Yesterday, thousands of singing, chanting pilgrims swamped Sydney Airport eager to begin their World Youth Day adventure.  Even more will arrive today and tomorrow, which will be the busiest days for the city’s airport since the Olympics.

Pilgrims are being accommodated in private homes, hostels, schools and church halls and even the show pavilions at Sydney Olympic Park where 10,000 will bed down for the week.

Twenty-one-year-old Nathan Stein, who travelled from Kansas City, said he was excited to be part of a great event.  “It’s really exciting to be with other youth from all over the world, especially those that share the same faith as you,” he said.

“I think we would love to see the Church and the faith flourish here and I think that’s probably one of the main reasons why the Holy Father chose this area.  He wanted to bolster the faith down here.”

Benedict XVI is the third pontiff to visit Australia after Pope John Paul II (1995 and 1986) and Pope Paul VI (1970).

During his visit, the Pope is expected to formally apologise for the Church’s handling of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and he may meet abuse victims as he did on a trip to the US earlier this year.

He is also expected to reach out to Aboriginal Australians, following the example of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

World Youth Day officially begins on Tuesday with a Mass conducted by Sydney Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell.  It culminates with the Papal Mass at Randwick Racecourse next Sunday, which is expected to attract between 300,000 and 500,000 people.


3 Responses to “World Youth Day: Pope Blesses Australia, Urges Hope”

  1. 1 craig

    Hi Danny,

    My mother is a devout Roman Catholic and she has not stopped persecuting my wife and my family ever since we left the Catholic Church 16 years ago.She believes all Protestants are wicked for leaving the Catholic church.The Pope of Rome also believes that their is no salvation for anyone outside of his Church.Why are you supporting this wicked man.He is lost.He needs jesus Christ.He is a deciever.

  2. 2 Marlene

    Dear Pastor Danny
    Do you have any comments to make about what is happening in Sydney at the moment? Despite our differences, I do believe the Lord is using these young Catholics to be tremendous witnesses for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Would you say this is also a work of the Lord to bring Holy Ghost fire across Australia?

    I just wonder why no mention is being made about this in any of our protestant churches. We are one body, despite our differences. Why aren’t we rejoicing that this is happening, albeit another group of Christians are being used?

    I am genuinely concerned about this, but probably won’t get a reply because you must get so many emails. Thanks anyway if you read this.

    He has shown you, O man, what is good
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to act justly
    To love mercy
    And to walk humbly with your God?
    (Micah 6:8)

    God bless you
    Marlene

  3. 3 Sheree

    (1) Holding Hands With The Pope by Ernest D. Pickering, Th.D. , 1995
    The current evangelical ecumenical craze is bringing together the Catholic Church and some Protestant church groups. This new ecumenicalism is part of the Toronto/Brownsville movement. “Have Bible-believers been in error for centuries in refusing to recognize the Roman Catholic Church as a part of the true Church of Christ? Did the martyrs of old die in vain as they protested the false teachings of the “mother of harlots”, and were burned at the stake for their efforts? Were Hugh Latimer, John Knox, and Martin Luther simpletons who failed to recognize the marvelous benefits of ecumenism and who, instead, boldly attacked the multiplied errors of Rome?” On Charismatics: “It is interesting that, in reporting the signing of the ecumenical document, the National and International Religion Report commented: ‘What brought the two communities together to this point, some signers said, are the experiences of worshipping together in the charismatic movement . . . . This is but another evidence of the impetus toward ecumenism which has been generated by the modern charismatic movement. Charismatics find common ground in their shared experience and see no doctrinal impediment to full cooperation with one another. Charismatics seem to be able to span the widest theological gulf with no problem whatsoever.”

    We are called to be seperate- what fellowship has Light with darkness and what AGREEMENT has the Temple of God with Idols? (2Corinthians 6:16)

    Sheree.

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