Benedict XVI at World Youth Day, Sydney Australia
                                    July 12-21, 2008


Pope's speeches on the Vatican site


On World Youth Day
"It Was Like a Multicolored Mosaic"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 27, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On Monday I returned from Sydney, Australia, the site of the 23rd World Youth Day. I still have this extraordinary occasion, in which I experienced the youthful face of the Church, on my mind and in my heart: It was like a multicolored mosaic, formed by young men and women from every part of the globe, all gathered together in the one faith in Jesus Christ.

“Young pilgrims of the world” -- this is what the people called them, a beautiful expression that captures the essential in these international meetings initiated by John Paul II. These gatherings in fact form the stages of a great pilgrimage across the world, to show how faith in Christ makes us all children of one Father who is in heaven and builders of a civilization of love.

The awareness of the Holy Spirit, protagonist of the life of the Church and of each Christian, was characteristic of the meeting in Sydney. The long journey of preparation in the local Churches followed the theme of these words of the risen Christ to the apostles: “You Will Receive Power When the Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You and You Will be My Witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

On July 16-18, in churches of Sydney, the numerous bishops exercised their office, proposing catechesis in various languages: These catecheses were moments of reflection and recollection that were indispensable for making the event one that, instead of being a merely external manifestation, would leave a deep impression on the conscience.

The evening vigil, in the heart of the city, beneath the Southern Cross, was a choral invocation of the Holy Spirit; and at the end, during the large Eucharistic celebration last Sunday, I administered the sacrament of confirmation to 24 young people from different continents, 14 of whom were Australian, inviting all present to renew their baptismal vows.

In this way World Youth Day was transformed into a new Pentecost, from which the mission of the young people, called to be apostles to their contemporaries, was relaunched. They are following in the footsteps of many young saints and blessed, in particular Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati, whose relics, brought to the cathedral of Sydney, were venerated by an uninterrupted pilgrimage of young people. Every young man and woman was invited to follow the example of the young saints and blessed, to share the personal experience of Jesus, who changes the life of his ““friends”” with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the love of God.

Today I would again like to thank the bishops of Australia, especially the archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal [George] Pell, for the extensive preparatory work and for the cordial welcome they offered me and all the other pilgrims. I thank all the Australian civil authorities for their precious collaboration. All those, in every part of the world, who prayed for this event, assuring its success, will certainly receive a special grace.

May the Virgin Mary dispense the most beautiful graces to everyone. I also entrust to Mary the period of rest that I will have beginning tomorrow in Bressanone in the mountains of Alto Adige. Let us remain united in prayer!

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims who are here today and I wish you all a pleasant stay in Italy. This Sunday’’s Gospel reminds us that we should treasure above all else the faith that has been given to us. I pray that your visit to Rome and the surrounding area will help you to deepen your faith and to grow in your love for our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you all!

[In Italian, he said:]

I would now like to greet the Italian pilgrims and, in particular, the large group of participants in the General Assembly of the Focolare movement.

While I rejoice over the election of new leaders for the movement, I exhort all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to follow with joy and courage the path of Chiara Lubich's spiritual heritage, which is gathered in your statutes, increasing more and more the relationships of communion in the family, community and in every ambit of society. [...]

I greet all those who are vacationing now, wishing them serene days of profitable physical and spiritual leisure. However, I do not forget those who cannot benefit from a time of rest and vacation: My thoughts turn to the sick in hospitals and nursing homes, to those in prison, to the elderly, to those who are alone, and those who are passing the summer in the heat of the city. To all of you I assure my affectionate nearness and a remembrance in my prayer.
May you all have a good Sunday!

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Before leaving for vacation, Pope Benedict on Sunday described his trip to Australia for World Youth Day as an "extraordinary experience".

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Aug. 10 Angelus Address
"The Lord Is Continuously Holding Out His Hand to Us"

BRESSANONE, Italy, AUG. 20, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 10 before reciting the midday Angelus with those gathered in the Cathedral Square at Bressanone.

The Holy Father was on vacation in the Dolomites, where he stayed at the major seminary of Bressanone.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There is a point in Mark's Gospel where he recounts that after days of stress the Lord said to the disciples: "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while" (6: 31). And since the Word of Christ is never connected solely to the moment in which it was spoken I have applied this invitation to the disciples also to myself, and I came to this beautiful, tranquil place to rest for a while.

I must thank Bishop Egger and all his collaborators, the whole City and Region of Bressanone, for preparing this beautiful quiet place for me in which, during the past two weeks I have been able to relax, to think of God and of humanity, and thus to recover fresh energy. May God reward you!

I ought to thank many individuals but I shall do something simpler: I commend you all to God's Blessing. He knows each one of you by name and his Blessing will touch each of you personally. I ask this with all my heart, and may it be my "thank you" to you all!

This Sunday's Gospel brings us back from this place of rest to daily life. It tells how, after the multiplication of the loaves, the Lord withdraws to the mountain to be alone with the Father. In the meantime, the disciples are on the lake and with their poor little boat are endeavoring in vain to stand up to a contrary wind.

To the Evangelist this episode may have seemed an image of the Church of his time: like the small barque which was the Church of that period, he found himself buffeted by the contrary wind of history and it may have seemed that the Lord had forgotten him.

We too can see this as an image of the Church of our time which in many parts of the earth finds herself struggling to make headway in spite of the contrary wind, and it seems the Lord is very remote.

But the Gospel gives us an answer, consolation and encouragement and at the same time points out a path to us. It tells us, in fact: yes, it is true, the Lord is with the Father but for this very reason he is not distant but sees everyone, for whoever is with God does not go away but is close to his neighbour.

And, in fact, the Lord sees them and at the proper time comes towards them. And when Peter, who was going to meet him, risks drowning, the Lord takes him by the hand and brings him to safety on the boat.

The Lord is continuously holding out his hand to us too. He does so through the beauty of a Sunday; he does so through the solemn liturgy; he does so in the prayer with which we address him; he does so in the encounter with the Word of God; he does so in many situations of daily life - he holds his hand out to us. And only if we take the Lord's hand, if we let ourselves be guided by him, will the path we take be right and good.

For this reason let us pray to him that we may succeed ever anew in finding his hand. And at the same time, this implies an exhortation: that, in his Name we hold our own hand out to others, to those in need of it, to lead them through the waters of our history.

In these days, dear friends, I have also been thinking over my experience in Sydney, where I encountered the joyful faces of so many young men and women from every part of the world. So it was that a reflection on this event developed in me which I would like to share with you.

In the great metropolis of the young Australian nation, those youth were a sign of authentic joy, at times boisterous but always peaceful and positive. Although they were so numerous, they caused neither disorder nor damage of any kind. In order to be happy they did not need to have recourse to vulgar or violent ways, to alcohol or narcotics.

In them was the joy of meeting one another and of discovering a new world together. How is it possible not to compare them to their peers who, in search of false escapes, have degrading experiences that all too often result in overwhelming tragedies? This is a typical product of today's so-called "society of well-being", which, to fill inner emptiness and the boredom that goes with it induces people to try new experiences, more exciting, more "extreme".

Even holidays risk evaporating into a vain pursuit of mirages of pleasure. Yet in this way the spirit does not rest, the heart does not find joy or peace; on the contrary, it ends even wearier and sadder than it was at the start.

I have referred to young people because it is they who thirst most after life and new experiences and are therefore the most at risk.

The reflection, however, applies to us all: the human person is truly regenerated only in the relationship with God and God is encountered by learning to listen to his voice in inner stillness and silence (cf. 1 Kgs 19: 12).

Let us pray that in a society where everyone is always in a rush, holidays may be days of true relaxation during which it is possible to carve out times for recollection and prayer that are indispensable in order to rediscover in depth both oneself and others. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Virgin of silence and listening.

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World Youth Day's First Steps
Cardinal Cordes Tells How It All Began

ROME, JULY 15, 2008 - Here is the history of World Youth Day as told by Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, at a Mass to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the San Lorenzo International Center.

In 1983, Cardinal Cordes was the vice president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The youth center, located near St. Peter's Basilica, was inaugurated by Pope John Paul II on March 13, 1983.

* * *

The idea to create World Youth Day was conceived in the extraordinary Holy Year 1983-1984. The Eternal City was invaded by associations, societies, fraternities and groups of all sorts.

One of the volunteers of the San Lorenzo International Center (established near the Vatican 25 years ago by Pope John Paul II), Don Massimo Camisasca of "Communion and Liberation," asked: "In this Holy Year, why don't we also hold an international meeting of youth?"

I replied: "The idea is interesting, but who could organize it?"

It seemed obvious to me that such an event exceeded completely the possibilities of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and that it could only be achieved provided that those involved in all the new spiritual initiatives that were collaborating in the center were committed to it.

We brought them together and were able to get their acquiescence, against the view of some of their leaders who, because of bad experiences in a similar meeting held in the 1975 Holy Year, had many reservations. However, thank God, the skeptics were unable to affect the fresh serenity and necessary youthful impulse of the others.

The closer we came to the first youth day the stronger was the resistance from outside. We received critical comments from some of the dioceses we had invited, such as: "It is not the Vatican's domain to be concerned with our young people."

At the last minute, the Communist mayor of Rome withdrew the authorizations already granted, making it impossible to prepare the planned camping tents in Rome's Pineta Sachetti park and to install the assigned dwellings there.

The ecologists were joined by journalists to raise the alarm about the immediate devastation of the city's gardens and public areas. Newspaper articles appeared with headings such as, "The Huns Are Coming."

And yet, despite our total inexperience with regards to mega-meetings of this sort, and the obstacles placed, the great number that attended was a triumphal success. Something like 300,000 young people accepted the Pope's invitation and participated in Mass on Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

The throng of foreigners was far greater than expected, yet everything unfolded in a very orderly and exemplary way, to the surprise of the whole world. The 90-year-old Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri, who had followed some phases of the youthful celebration from the terrace of the Vatican basilica, observed: "Not even the oldest Romans can recall something like it."

In the Council for the Laity we spent all our physical strength for the event. For half a year we had nothing in mind other than the youth day. We put everything else to one side. That they would reproach us for having believed in it and wanted to organize it with all our strength, in fact, turned out to be true; we paid our debt to the world's youth to the last cent.

Obviously, Pope John Paul II thought otherwise. Shortly before the summer holidays, he said to us: "The United Nations has proclaimed next year the Year of Youth. Should we not invite the world's youth to Rome again?"

On hearing the suggestion, it is understandable that our enthusiasm was very restrained. There was very little time left for preparations, given that the break for summer holidays with two months of interruption, was at our doors, and the date to be establish was again Palm Sunday, not to mention the fact that we would not have been able, over half a year, to count on the commitment of groups of the center for the new youth day.

On the other hand, we had to say yes to the Pope, above all because he was the Pope, and then because we had seen for ourselves that the first youth day had meant a great impulse of faith for very many young people.

Our willingness to obey soon found an unexpected echo, which removed many of our concerns: Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolares, put all the forces of her movement at our disposal, so that we were able to lean on an experienced organization.

For the second time, the young people's participation was oceanic. At the closing liturgy in front of the Lateran basilica, close to 250,000 people were counted. In the Council for the Laity we would have liked to have closed the chapter on "youth" for a while. We had many other obligations.

On Holy Monday, at the brink of extenuation, I escaped to Germany to be able to sleep at last and to recover to a degree from the exhaustion. On Easter Sunday I followed the televised broadcast of the liturgy in St. Peter's Square. The homily of the still young Pope enthused me, but a passage irritated me. Very energetically the Pope said these phrases: "I met last Sunday with hundreds of thousands of young people, and I have, imprinted on my soul, the festive image of their enthusiasm. I am hoping that this wonderful experience might be repeated in future years, giving origin to World Youth Day on Palm Sunday." The Holy Father had enjoyed it and had established a new practice in the Catholic Church

So began the celebration of World Youth Day, which various countries of the world have hosted, alternating international meetings with others held in local Churches. They were inaugurated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and followed by Spain, the United States, Europe and Asia. Of special importance were the meetings of Paris and Rome during the Holy Year of 2000. The numerical summit was reached in the Philippines, where some four million people gathered in celebration. The media were in agreement in commenting that the family of nations had never attended an event in which such a great multitude of people participated, voluntarily and with great joy.

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Pope's Message to Australia and Youth Pilgrims
"If You Wish to Remain Young, Seek Christ"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 13, 2008 - Here is the text of the message Benedict XVI wrote ahead of his trip to Australia to the people of the nation and the young pilgrims who will take part in World Youth Day, to be held in Sydney from July 15 to 20. The note was released today in Australia.

* * *

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses" (Act 1:8)

The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you! In a few days from now, I shall begin my Apostolic Visit to your country, in order to celebrate the Twenty-Third World Youth Day in Sydney. I very much look forward to the days that I shall spend with you, and especially to the opportunities for prayer and reflection with young people from all over the world.

First of all, I want to express my appreciation to all those who have offered so much of their time, their resources and their prayers in support of this celebration. The Australian Government and the Provincial Government of New South Wales, the organizers of all the events, and members of the business community who have provided sponsorship – all of you have willingly supported this event, and on behalf of the young people taking part in the World Youth Day, I thank you most sincerely. Many of the young people have made great sacrifices in order to undertake the journey to Australia, and I pray that they will be rewarded abundantly. The parishes, schools and host families have been most generous in welcoming these young visitors, and they too deserve our thanks and our appreciation.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses" (Act 1:8). This is the theme of the Twenty-Third World Youth Day. How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! There are still many who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, while many others, for whatever reason, have not recognized in this Good News the saving truth that alone can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts. The Psalmist prays: "when you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth" (Ps 104:30). It is my firm belief that young people are called to be instruments of that renewal, communicating to their peers the joy they have experienced through knowing and following Christ, and sharing with others the love that the Spirit pours into their hearts, so that they too will be filled with hope and with thanksgiving for all the good things they have received from our heavenly Father.

Many young people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers. They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions. They are challenged by the arguments of those who deny the existence of God and they wonder how to respond. They see great damage done to the natural environment through human greed and they struggle to find ways to live in greater harmony with nature and with one another.

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. There is a saying attributed to Saint Augustine: "If you wish to remain young, seek Christ". In him we find the answers that we are seeking, we find the goals that are truly worth living for, we find the strength to pursue the path that will bring about a better world. Our hearts find no rest until they rest in the Lord, as Saint Augustine says at the beginning of the Confessions, the famous account of his own youth. My prayer is that the hearts of the young people who gather in Sydney for the celebration of World Youth Day will truly find rest in the Lord, and that they will be filled with joy and fervour for spreading the Good News among their friends, their families, and all whom they meet.

Dear Australian friends, although I will only be able to spend a few days in your country, and I will not be able to travel outside Sydney, my heart reaches out to all of you, including those who are sick or in difficulties of any kind. On behalf of all the young people, I thank you again for your support of my mission and I ask you to continue praying for them especially. It remains only for me to renew my invitation to the young people from all over the world to join me in Australia, the great "southern land of the Holy Spirit". I look forward to seeing you there! May God bless you all.

From the Vatican, 4 July 2008

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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Papal Comments Aboard Flight to Sydney
"I Am Going With Sentiments of Great Joy to Australia"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 14, 2008 - Here is a translation of the Vatican transcription of Benedict XVI's comments to journalists aboard the papal plane en route to Sydney.

One hour after taking off from Rome on Saturday, the Pope answered five questions.

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[Translation from Italian]

Q: Holiness, this is your second World Youth Day, the first -- let's say -- that is entirely yours. With what sentiments are you ready to live it and what is the principal message you wish to give young people? Then, do you think the World Youth Day has a profound influence on the life of the Church that hosts it? And finally, do you think that the formula of these mass gatherings of young people is still up-to-date?

Benedict XVI: I am going with sentiments of great joy to Australia. I have beautiful memories of the World Youth Day of Cologne. It was not simply a mass event. Above all, it was a great celebration of the faith, a human encounter of communion in Christ. We saw how the faith opens borders and there was truly a capacity of union between the different cultures, and it created joy.

And I hope the same thing will now happen in Australia. So I am happy to see many young people, and to see them united in their desire for God and for a truly human world. The principal message is indicated by the words that make up the slogan of this World Youth Day: we speak of the Holy Spirit that makes us witness of Christ.

Therefore, I would like to focus my message precisely on this reality of the Holy Spirit, who appears in different dimensions: He is the Spirit operating in creation. The dimension of creation is very present, because the Spirit is creator. It seems to me to be a very important topic at our present moment.

However, the Spirit is also the inspirer of Scripture: On our journey, in the light of Scripture, we can go together with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, hence he guides us in communion with Christ and finally shows himself, according to St. Paul, in charisms, namely, in a great number of unexpected gifts that change the different times and give new strength to the Church. And, therefore, these dimensions invite us to see the traces of the Spirit and to make the Spirit visible also to others.

A World Youth Day is not simply an event of this moment. It is prepared with a long journey with the cross and the icon of the Madonna, which among other things, is prepared from the organizational, but also from the spiritual point of view. Hence, these days are only the culminating moment of a long preceding journey. All is the fruit of a journey, of a being together on the journey to Christ.

World Youth Day then creates a history, that is, friendships are created, new inspirations are created: And so the World Youth Day continues. This seems to me to be very important: Not to see only these three-four days, but to see the whole journey that precedes them and the one that follows.

In this connection, it seems to me that World Youth Day -- at least for the near future -- is a valid formula that prepares us to understand that from different points of view and from different parts of the earth we go forward toward Christ and toward communion. Thus we appreciate a new journeying together. In this connection, I hope it will also be a formula for the future.

[English Original]

Q: The Australian newspaper, Holy Father, I'd like to ask my question in English: Australia is a very secular land, with low religious practice and much religious indifference. I'd like to ask whether you are optimistic about the future of the Church in Australia, or are worried and alarmed that the Australian Church may follow the European path to decline? What message would you offer Australia to overcome its religious indifference?

Benedict XVI: I will do my best in English, but I beg your pardon for my insufficiencies in English.

I think Australia in its present historical configuration is a part of the "Western world," economically and politically, and so it is clear that Australia shares also the successes and the problems of the Western world.

The Western world has had in the last 50 years great successes -- economic successes, technical successes; yet religion -- Christian faith -- is in a certain sense in crisis. This is clear because there is the impression that we do not need God, we can do all on our own, that we do not need God to be happy, we do not need God to create a better world, that God is not necessary, we can do all by ourselves.

On the other hand we see that religion is always present in the world and will always be present because God is present in the heart of the human being and can never disappear. We see how religion is really a force in this world and in countries. I would not simply speak about a decline of religion in Europe: Certainly there is a crisis in Europe, not so much in America but nevertheless there too, and in Australia.

But on the other hand, there's always a presence of the faith in new forms, and in new ways; in the minority, perhaps, but always present for all the society to see. And now in this historical moment, we begin to see that we do need God. We can do so many things, but we cannot create our climate.

We thought we could do it, but we cannot do it. We need the gift of the Earth, the gift of water, we need the Creator; the Creator re-appears in his creation. And so we also come to understand that we cannot be really happy, cannot be really promoting justice for all the world, without a criterion at work in our own ideas, without a God who is just, and gives us the light, and gives us life. So, I think there will be in a certain sense in this "Western world" a crisis of our faith, but we will always also have a revival of the faith, because Christian faith is simply true, and the truth will always be present in the human world, and God will always be truth. In this sense, I am in the end optimistic.

Q: Holy Father, I'm sorry but I don't speak Italian well. So I'll be asking my question in English. There has been a call from Australian victims of sexual abuse by clergy for Your Holiness to address the issue and to offer an apology to the victims during your visit to Australia.

Cardinal Pell himself has said that it would be appropriate for the Pope to address the issue, and you, yourself made a similar gesture on your recent trip to the United States. Will Your Holiness be speaking on the issue of sexual abuse and will you be offering an apology?

Benedict XVI: Yes, the problem is essentially the same as in the United States. I felt obliged to speak about it in the United States because it is essential for the Church to reconcile, to prevent, to help and also to see guilt in these problems, so I will essentially say the same things as I said in America.

As I said we have three dimensions to clarify: The first I mention is our moral teaching. It must be clear, it was always clear from the first centuries that priesthood, to be a priest, is incompatible with this behavior, because the priest is in the service of Our Lord, and Our Lord is holiness in person, and always teaching us -- the Church has always insisted on this.

We have to reflect on what was insufficient in our education, in our teaching in recent decades: There was, in the '50s, '60s and '70s, the idea of proportionalism in ethics: It held that no thing is bad in itself, but only in proportion to others; with proportionalism it was possible to think for some subjects -- one could also be pedophilia -- that in some proportion they could be a good thing.

Now, it must be stated clearly, this was never Catholic doctrine. There are things which are always bad, and pedophilia is always bad. In our education, in the seminaries, in our permanent formation of the priests, we have to help priests to really be close to Christ, to learn from Christ, and so to be helpers, and not adversaries of our fellow human beings, of our Christians.

So, we will do everything possible to clarify what is the teaching of the Church and help in the education and in the preparation of priests, in permanent formation, and we will do all possible to heal and to reconcile the victims. I think this is the essential content of what the word "apologize" says. I think it is better, more important to give the content of the formula, and I think the content has to say what was insufficient in our behavior, what we must do in this moment, how we can prevent and how we all can heal and reconcile.

[Translation from Italian]

Q: One of the arguments of the last Group of Eight meeting in Japan was the struggle against climate change. Australia is a country that is very sensitive to this topic because of the acute drought and dramatic climatic events in this region of the world. Do you think that the decisions taken in this field are up to the measure of the challenge? Will you address this argument during your trip?

Benedict XVI: As I already pointed out in my first answer, this problem will certainly be very present in this World Youth Day, because we speak of the Holy Spirit and, consequently, we speak of creation and of our responsibility in encounters with creation.

I do not presume to enter into the technical questions that politicians and specialists must resolve, but to give the essential impetus to see the responsibilities, to be capable of responding to this great challenge: To rediscover in creation the face of the creator, to rediscover our responsibility before the creator for his creation, which he has entrusted to us, to form the ethical capacity for a lifestyle that must be assumed if we wish to address the problems of this situation and if we really want to arrive at positive solutions. Hence, to awaken consciences and see the great context of this problem, in which later are placed the detailed answers that it is not for us to give, but for politics and specialists.

Q: While you are in Australia, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, which is very widespread also in Australia, are meeting in Lambeth Palace. One of the main arguments will be possible ways to consolidate communion between the provinces and to find a way to ensure that one or more provinces do not take initiatives that others see as contrary to the Gospel and tradition.

Is there the risk of a fragmentation of the Anglican Communion and the possibility that some will ask
to be received into the Catholic Church. What is your hope for the Lambeth Conference and for the archbishop of Canterbury?

Benedict XVI: My essential contribution can only be prayer and with my prayer I will be very close to the Anglican bishops meeting in Lambeth Conference.

We cannot and must not intervene immediately in their discussions, we respect their own responsibility and it is our hope that schisms and new breaks can be avoided, and that a responsible solution will be found given our times, but also in fidelity to the Gospel. These two things must go together.

Christianity is always contemporary and lives in this world, in a certain time, but it renders present in this time the message of Jesus Christ and, hence, offers a true contribution for this time only be being faithful -- in a mature and creative way -- but faithful to the message of Christ.

We hope, and I personally pray, that together they will find the way of the Gospel for our day. This is my wish for the archbishop of Canterbury: That the Anglican Communion in communion with the Gospel of Christ and the Word of the Lord will find the answers to the present challenges.

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INAUGURATION OF WORLD YOUTH DAY

 VATICAN CITY, 15 JULY 2008 (VIS) - Today, Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia, initiated the World Youth Day, which will culminate in the vigil and Mass presided by Benedict XVI this 19 and 20 July at the city's Randwick Racecourse.

   The Eucharistic celebration, which took place at the port of Barangaroo on the shores of the Pacific Ocean , gathered thousands of pilgrims who had arrived from various countries from all over the globe.

   The inaugural act began with the arrival of the great wooden cross that many young people had helped carry in pilgrimage to Sydney in a trip that spanned the country.

   Father Federico Lombardi , S.J., yesterday affirmed that the Holy Father was "absolutely serene and rested", thus denying reports that had appeared in the press saying that he was "exhausted" after the more than 20 hour flight.

  Father Lombardi showed the journalists a video of the Pope praying, strolling and talking with his secretaries at Kenthurst Study Centre, the residence near Richmond where he is spending a few days.

   He noted that the Pope, arriving at the residence this past Sunday after the flight, celebrated a private Mass at 18:00, then had supper and rested.

  Yesterday morning, 14 July, he celebrated Mass with his personal retinue and a dozen persons, took an early walk, and retired to his work as he does every morning. Shortly before 13:00, Cardinal George Pell and Bishop Anthony Fisher, coordinator of the WYD, arrived for lunch with the Pope and to talk of the preparations.

   After lunch the Holy Father took his typical afternoon walk with his secretaries. Afterward he returned to work and at 16:00, Fr. Lombardi said, he met again with Cardinal Pell.

   The director of the Holy See Press Office stated that around the residence there is a pond, a little lake, and a small chapel where the Pope stopped to pray the rosary.

  At five in the evening there was a concert with pieces from Schumann, Mozart, and Schubert followed by dinner at 19:00.

   Benedict XVI will remain at the Kenthurst Study Centre until Thursday morning when his visit to Australia officially begins with a welcoming ceremony given by the Australian authorities.

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Cardinal Pell's Homily at Youth Day Opening
"Look Ahead to the Future Stretching Out Before You"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 15, 2008 - Here is the homily Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, gave today at the opening Mass of World Youth Day at Barangaroo.

The readings for today's Mass were: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 23; Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25; Luke 8:4-15.

* * *

We all know that Christ Our Lord is often described as the Good Shepherd of today’s responsorial psalm. We are told that he leads us near restful waters, revives our flagging spirits, enables us to rest peacefully.

In developing this image on one occasion, Jesus explained that such a shepherd was prepared to leave the ninety-nine sheep to search out the one who was lost.

Few countries today have a shepherd who cares for only 20 or 30 sheep, and in Australia with large farms and huge flocks Our Lord’s advice is not very practical. If the lost sheep was valuable and probably healthy, it might make sense to take the time to search for it. More usually it would be left behind or its absence not even noticed.

Jesus was saying that both He and His Father are not like this, because He knows each one of His sheep and like a good father he goes searching for the lost one he loves, particularly if he is sick, or in trouble, or unable to help himself.

Earlier in this Mass I welcomed you all to this World Youth Day week and I repeat that welcome now. But I do not begin with the ninety-nine healthy sheep, those of you already open to the Spirit, perhaps already steady witnesses to faith and love. I begin by welcoming and encouraging any one, anywhere who regards himself or herself as lost, in deep distress, with hope diminished or even exhausted.

Young or old, woman or man, Christ is still calling those who are suffering to come to him for healing, as he has for two thousand years. The causes of the wounds are quite secondary, whether they be drugs or alcohol, family breakups, the lusts of the flesh, loneliness or a death. Perhaps even the emptiness of success.

Christ’s call is to all who are suffering, not just to Catholics or other Christians, but especially to those without religion. Christ is calling you home; to love, healing and community.

Our first reading today was from Ezekiel, with Isaiah and Jeremiah one of the three greatest Jewish prophets. Many parts of Australia are still in drought, so all Australians understand a valley of dry bones and fleshless skeletons. But this grim vision is offered first of all to any and all of you who are even tempted to say “our hope is gone, we are as good as dead”.

This is never true while we can still choose. While there is life there is always the option of hope and with Christian hope come faith and love. Until the end we are always able to choose and act.

This vision of the valley of the dry bones, the most spectacular in the whole of the Bible, was given when the hand of God came upon Ezekiel while the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, probably earlier rather than later in the sixth century B.C. For about 150 years the political fortunes of the Jewish people had been in decline, first of all at the hands of the Assyrians. Later in 587 B.C. came the final catastrophic defeat and their transportation into exile. The Jewish people were in despair, powerless to change their situation.

This is the historical background to Ezekiel’s dramatic vision where the dead were well dead, whitened skeletons as the birds of prey had long finished their ghastly business of stripping off the flesh. It was an immense battlefield of the unburied.

A hesitant and reluctant Ezekiel was urged by God to prophesy to these bones and as he did so the bones rushed together noisily, accompanied by an earthquake. Sinews knitted them together, flesh and then skin clothed the corpses.

Another stage was needed and the breath, or Spirit, came from the four corners of the earth as the bodies came “to life again and stood up on their feet, a great and immense army”.

While we now see this vision as a pre-figuration of the resurrection of the dead, the Jews of Ezekiel’s time did not believe in such a conception of the afterlife. For them the immense resurrected army represented all the Jewish people, those from the northern kingdom taken off to Assyria, those at home and those in Babylon. They were to be reconstituted as a people in their own land and they would know that the one true God alone had done this. And all this came to pass.

Over the centuries we Christians have used this passage liturgically at Easter, especially for the baptism of catechumens on Holy Saturday night and it is, of course, a powerful image of the one true God’s regenerative power for this life and eternity.

Secular wisdom claims that leopards do not change their spots, but we Christians believe in the power of the Spirit to convert and change persons away from evil to good; from fear and uncertainty to faith and hope.

Believers are heartened by Ezekiel’s vision, because we know the power of God’s forgiveness, the capacity of Christ and the Catholic tradition to cause new life to flourish even in unlikely circumstances.

That same power glimpsed in Ezekiel’s vision is offered to us today, to all of us without exception. You young pilgrims can look ahead to the future stretching out before you, so rich in promise. The Gospel parable of the sower and the seen reminds you of the great opportunity you have to embrace your vocation and produce an abundant harvest, a hundredfold crop.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all place this story of the sower at the beginning of their collection of Jesus’ parables. It explains some fundamental truths about the challenges of Christian discipleship and lists the alternatives to a fruitful Christian life. Fidelity is not automatic or inevitable.

One detail makes the parable more plausible, because it seems the Jews in Our Lord’s time threw the seed on the ground before they ploughed it, so explaining a little better the seed being in unlikely places rather than just in the furrows.

Are we amongst those whose faith has already been snatched away by the devil, as Our Lord explained the image of the birds of the sky gobbling up the seed? No one at this Mass would be in that category. Some might be like the seed on rocky ground which could not put down roots. Those here in this second category are likely to be striving to start again in the spiritual life, or at least examining the possibility of doing so. But most of us are in the third and fourth categories, where the seed has fallen on good soil and is growing and flourishing; or we are in danger of being choked off by the worries of life. All of us, including those who are no longer young, have to pray for wisdom and perseverance.

I have no problem in believing that Our Lord spelt out the meaning of this parable to his closest followers and that he would have been asked by them regularly to do so. But the disciples’ enquiries provoked a disconcerting response, when Our Lord divides his listeners into two groups; those to whom the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed and the rest for whom the parables remain only parables. This second group is described in words from the prophet Isaiah as those who “may see but not perceive, listen but not understand”. Probably the background to this is the amazement of Our Lord’s disciples at the large number who did not accept his teaching.

Why is this still so? What must we do to be among those for whom the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed?

The call of the one true God remains mysterious, especially today when many good people find it hard to believe. Even in the time of the prophets many of their hearers remained spiritually deaf and blind, while any number over the ages have admired the beauty of Jesus’ teaching, but never been moved to answer his call.

Our task is to be open to the power of the Spirit, to allow the God of surprises to act through us. Human motivation is complex and mysterious, because sometimes very strong Catholics, and other strong Christians, can be prayerful and regularly good, but also very determined not to take even one further step. On the other hand, some followers of Christ can be much less zealous and faithful, but open to development, to change for the better because they realize their unworthiness and their ignorance. Where do you stand?

Whatever our situation we must pray for an openness of heart, for a willingness to take the next step, even if we are fearful of venturing too much further. If we take God’s hand, He will do the rest. Trust is the key. God will not fail us.

How can we work to avoid slipping from the last and best category of the fruit bearers into those “who are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life” and so do not produce much fruit at all?

The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians points us in the correct direction, reminding us all that each person must declare himself in the age-old struggle between good and evil, between what Paul calls the flesh and the Spirit. It is not good enough to be only a passenger, to try to live in “no-mans land” between the warring parties. Life forces us to choose, eventually destroys any possibility of neutrality.

We will bring forth good fruit by learning the language of the Cross and inscribing it on our hearts. The language of the Cross brings us the fruits of the Spirit which Paul lists, enables us to experience peace and joy, to be regularly kind and generous to others. Following Christ is not cost free, not always easy, because it requires struggling against what St. Paul calls “the flesh”, our fat relentless egos, old fashioned selfishness. It is always a battle, even for old people like me!

Don’t spend your life sitting on the fence, keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfilment. Happiness comes from meeting our obligations, doing our duty, especially in small matters and regularly, so we can rise to meet the harder challenges. Many have found their life’s calling at World Youth Days.

 To be a disciple of Jesus requires discipline, especially self discipline; what Paul calls self control. The practice of self control won’t make you perfect (it hasn’t with me), but self control is necessary to develop and protect the love in our hearts and prevent others, especially our family and friends, from being hurt by our lapses into nastiness or laziness.

I pray that through the power of the Spirit all of you will join that immense army of saints, healed and reborn, which was revealed to Ezekiel, which has enriched human history for countless generations and which is rewarded in the after-life of heaven.

Let me conclude by adapting one of the most powerful sermons of St. Augustine, the finest theologian of the first millennium and a bishop inthe small North African town of Hippo around 1600 years ago.

 I expect that in the next five days of prayer and celebration that your spirits will rise, as mine always does, in the excitement of this World Youth Day. Please God we shall all be glad that we participated, despite the cost, hassles and distances travelled. During this week we have every right to rejoice and celebrate the liberation of our repentance, the rejuvenation of our faith. We are called to open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. And to the young ones I give a gentle reminder that in your enthusiasm and excitement you do not forget to listen and pray!

Many of you have travelled such a long way that you may believe that you have arrived, indeed, at the ends of earth! If so, that’s good, for Our Lord told his first apostles that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth. That prophesy has been fulfilled in the witness of many missionaries to this vast southern continent, and it is fulfilled yet again in your presence here.

But these days will pass too quickly and next week we shall return to earth. For a time some of you will find the real world of home and parish, work or study, flat and disappointing.

Soon, too soon, you will all be going away. Briefly we are now here in Sydney at the centre of the Catholic world, but next week the Holy Father will return to Rome, we Sydneysiders will return to our parishes, while you, now visiting pilgrims, will go back to your homes in places near and far.

In other words during next week we shall be parting from one another. But when we part after these happy days, let us never part from our loving God and his Son Jesus Christ. And may Mary, Mother of God, whom we invoke in this World Youth Day as Our Lady of the Southern Cross, strengthen us in this resolution.

And so I pray. Come, come O Breath of God, from the four winds, from all the nations and peoples of the earth and bless our Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.

Empower us also to be another great and immense army of humble servants and faithful witnesses.

And we make this prayer to God our Father in the name of Christ his Son. Amen. Amen.

George Cardinal Pell
Archbishop of Sydney

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POPE MOVES TO CATHEDRAL HOUSE IN SYDNEY
VATICAN CITY, 16 JUL 2008 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. local time today ( 10 a .m. in Rome), the Holy Father left the Kenthurst Study Centre in Sydney where he has spent the first days of his trip to Australia resting. From the centre he was taken by car to Cathedral House in Sydney , his residence until the end of his apostolic visit which officially begins tomorrow with the welcome ceremony at Government House.

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WELCOME CEREMONY AND VISIT TO MARY MACKILLOP MEMORIAL
VATICAN CITY, 17 JUL 2008 (VIS) - After celebrating Mass in private at Sydney 's Cathedral House, the Pope travelled to Government House, an elegant neo-Gothic structure built between 1837 and 1845, where the welcome ceremony took place.

The Holy Father was welcomed in the gardens by Michael Jeffery, governor general of Australia , and by Kevin Rudd, prime minister. Also present were political and civil authorities, and a number of prelates of the Church in Australia .
In his address the Holy Father asked what it is that motivates so many young people to undertake such a long journey in order to participate in World Youth Day. "They are", he explained, "eager to take part in an event which brings into focus the high ideals that inspire them, and they return home filled with hope and renewed in their resolve to contribute to the building of a better world. For me it is a joy to be with them, to pray with them and to celebrate the Eucharist with them. World Youth Day fills me with confidence for the future of the Church and the future of our world".

"For thousands of years before the arrival of Western settlers, the sole inhabitants of this land were indigenous peoples, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders", the Holy Father remarked. "Thanks to the Australian Government's courageous decision to acknowledge the injustices committed against the indigenous peoples in the past, concrete steps are now being taken to achieve reconciliation based on mutual respect. Rightly, you are seeking to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians regarding life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity! This example of reconciliation offers hope to peoples all over the world who long to see their rights affirmed and their contribution to society acknowledged and promoted".

The Pope went on to highlight the contribution made by Catholics to building the nation, "particularly in the fields of education and healthcare". In this context he mentioned Blessed Mary MacKillop, "one of the most outstanding figures in this country's history".

Referring then to the "the wonder of God's creation" in Australia , the Holy Father pointed out that the country "is making a serious commitment to address its responsibility to care for the natural environment". Likewise it "has generously supported international peace-keeping operations, contributing to conflict resolution in the Pacific, in Southeast Asia and elsewhere".

After recalling how the theme of this World Youth Day is inspired by the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, Benedict XVI expressed the hope that "the Holy Spirit will bring spiritual renewal to this land, to the Australian people, to the Church throughout Oceania and indeed to the ends of the earth".

"Through the Spirit's action, may the young people gathered here for World Youth Day have the courage to become saints! This is what the world needs more than anything else", he concluded.

Following the welcome ceremony, the Pope visited the Mary MacKillop Memorial, site of the tomb of the first Australian blessed who also co-founded the Sisters of St. Joseph. He then went on to Admiralty House where he paid a courtesy visit to Governor General Michael Jeffery and held a meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

TURNING OUR BACK ON CREATOR'S PLAN PROVOKES DISORDER
VATICAN CITY, 17 JUL 2008 (VIS) - At 2.35 p.m. Australian time today, the Holy Father travelled to Rose Bay Quay in Sydney where he was greeted by elders of Australia's Aboriginal peoples. During the ceremony, songs were sung in the local Aboriginal dialect and in other languages of the indigenous peoples of Oceania .

The Pope then boarded the ship "Sydney 2000" to cover the six nautical miles separating him from Bangaroo East Darling Harbour where he would be welcomed by thousands of young participants in World Youth Day. Benedict XVI, accompanied by Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone, George Pell and Stanislaw Rylko, stood at the prow of the vessel on the second deck, while the first and third decks were occupied by young people waving WYD flags.

A fleet of smaller boats, also carrying young people, accompanied the papal vessel to the quay at Bangaroo which, in tribute to the origins of the city, takes its name from the wife of a local Aborigine chief. On his arrival, the Pope was greeted by a group of young Australian Aborigines and a group of young people from the Pacific area, who sang indigenous songs and "Tu es Petrus".

In his address, the Pope thanked the Aboriginal elders who had welcomed him, asking them to transmit his "heartfelt greetings to your peoples". He went on: "I am deeply moved to stand on your land, knowing the suffering and injustices it has borne, but aware too of the healing and hope that are now at work, rightly bringing pride to all Australian citizens".

"Standing before me I see a vibrant image of the Universal Church . The variety of nations and cultures from which you hail shows that indeed Christ's Good News is for everyone; it has reached the ends of the earth. Yet I know too that a good number of you are still seeking a spiritual homeland. Some of you, most welcome among us, are not Catholic or Christian. Others of you perhaps hover at the edge of parish and Church life. To you I wish to offer encouragement: step forward into Christ's loving embrace; recognise the Church as your home. No one need remain on the outside, for from the day of Pentecost the Church has been one and universal".

Benedict XVI praised "the majestic splendour of Australia 's natural beauty" which evokes "a profound sense of awe. It is as though one catches glimpses of the Genesis creation story: light and darkness, the sun and the moon, the waters, the earth, and living creatures; all of which are 'good' in God's eyes".

Yet "there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth, erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption. .... And we discover that not only the natural but also the social environment - the habitat we fashion for ourselves - has its scars; wounds indicating that something is amiss; ... a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created. Examples abound, as you yourselves know. Among the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment.

"I ask myself", the Pope added, "could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation 'explain' that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely 'entertainment'? There is also something sinister which stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth. This is fuelled by the notion, widely held today, that there are no absolute truths to guide our lives. Relativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made 'experience' all-important".

"Life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences. ... It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

"Christ offers more! Indeed He offers everything! Only He Who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life". But "the task of witness is not easy. There are many today who claim that God should be left on the sidelines, and that religion and faith, while fine for individuals, should either be excluded from the public forum altogether or included only in the pursuit of limited pragmatic goals. This secularist vision seeks to explain human life and shape society with little or no reference to the Creator. It presents itself as neutral, impartial and inclusive of everyone. But in reality, like every ideology, secularism imposes a world-view. If God is irrelevant to public life, then society will be shaped in a godless image, and debate and policy concerning the public good will be driven more by consequences than by principles grounded in truth".
"Experience shows", said Pope Benedict, "that turning our back on the Creator's plan provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order. When God is eclipsed, our ability to recognise the natural order, purpose, and the 'good' begins to wane".

The Holy Father invited young people to be "alert to the signs of turning our back on the moral structure with which God has endowed humanity" and to "recognise that the innate dignity of every individual rests on his or her deepest identity - as image of the Creator - and therefore that human rights are universal, based on the natural law, and not something dependent upon negotiation or patronage, let alone compromise. And so we are led to reflect on what place the poor and the elderly, immigrants and the voiceless, have in our societies. How can it be that domestic violence torments so many mothers and children? How can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space - the womb - has become a place of unutterable violence?"

"God's creation is one and it is good", Pope Benedict concluded. "The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God Himself and thus inviolable.

"Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ".
Following the ceremony, the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to Cathedral House, where he spent the night. Along his route he was greeted by many people gathered around Sydney Opera House, symbol of the city and, since 2007, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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Papal Address at Government House Ceremony
"Young People Today Face a Bewildering Variety of Life-Choices"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 16, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave at an official welcome ceremony Thursday morning local time at the Government House in Sydney.
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Your Excellencies,
Dear Australian Friends,
It is with great joy that I greet you today. I would like to thank the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery and Prime Minister Rudd for honouring me by their presence at this ceremony and for welcoming me so graciously. As you know, I have been able to enjoy some quiet days since my arrival in Australia last Sunday. I am most grateful for the hospitality that has been extended to me. Now I look forward to this evening's "Welcome to Country" by the indigenous people and to celebrating the great events which form the purpose of my Apostolic Visit: the Twenty-Third World Youth Day.
Some might ask what motivates thousands of young people to undertake what is for many a long and demanding journey in order to participate in an event of this kind. Ever since the first World Youth Day in 1986, it has been evident that vast numbers of young people appreciate the opportunity to come together to deepen their faith in Christ and to share with one another a joyful experience of communion in his Church. They long to hear the word of God, and to learn more about their Christian faith. They are eager to take part in an event which brings into focus the high ideals that inspire them, and they return home filled with hope and renewed in their resolve to contribute to the building of a better world. For me it is a joy to be with them, to pray with them and to celebrate the Eucharist with them. World Youth Day fills me with confidence for the future of the Church and the future of our world.
It seems particularly appropriate to celebrate World Youth Day here, since the Church in Australia, as well as being the youngest of any continent, is also one of the most cosmopolitan. Since the first European settlement here in the late eighteenth century, this country has become a home not only to generations of Europeans, but to people from every corner of the globe. The immense diversity of the Australian population today gives a particular vibrancy to what may still be considered, in comparison with much of the rest of the world, a young nation. Yet for thousands of years before the arrival of Western settlers, the sole inhabitants of the land were indigenous peoples, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Their ancient heritage forms an essential part of the cultural landscape of modern Australia. Thanks to the Australian Government's courageous decision to acknowledge the injustices committed against the indigenous peoples in the past, concrete steps are now being taken to achieve reconciliation based on mutual respect. Rightly, you are seeking to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians regarding life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity! This example of reconciliation offers hope to peoples all over the world who long to see their rights affirmed and their contribution to society acknowledged and promoted.
The settlers who came here from Europe have always included a significant proportion of Catholics, and we may be justly proud of the contribution they have made to the building up of the nation, particularly in the fields of education and healthcare. One of the most outstanding figures in this country's history is Blessed Mary MacKillop, at whose tomb I shall pray later this morning. I know that her perseverance in the face of adversity, her plea for justice on behalf of those unfairly treated and her practical example of holiness have become a source of inspiration for all Australians. Generations have reason to be grateful to her and to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and other religious congregations for the network of schools that they established here and for the witness of their consecrated life. In today's more secular environment, the Catholic community continues to make an important contribution to national life, not only through education and healthcare, but especially by highlighting the spiritual dimension of the questions that feature prominently in contemporary debate.
With many thousands of young people visiting Australia at this time, it is appropriate to reflect upon the kind of world we are handing on to future generations. In the words of your national anthem, this land "abounds in nature's gifts, of beauty rich and rare". The wonder of God's creation reminds us of the need to protect the environment and to exercise responsible stewardship of the goods of the earth. In this connection I note that Australia is making a serious commitment to address its responsibility to care for the natural environment. Likewise with regard to the human environment, this country has generously supported international peace-keeping operations, contributing to conflict resolution in the Pacific, in South-East Asia and elsewhere. Owing to the many religious traditions represented in Australia, this is particularly fertile ground for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. I look forward to meeting local representatives of different Christian communities and other religions during my stay, so as to encourage this important work, a sign of the reconciling action of the Spirit who impels us to seek unity in truth and charity.
First and foremost, though, I am here to meet the young, from Australia and from all over the world, and to pray for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all those taking part in our celebrations. The theme chosen for World Youth Day 2008 is taken from words spoken by Jesus himself to his disciples, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses to the ends of the earth" (1:9). I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring spiritual renewal to this land, to the Australian people, to the Church throughout Oceania and indeed to the ends of the earth. Young people today face a bewildering variety of life-choices, so that they sometimes find it hard to know how best to channel their idealism and their energy. It is the Spirit who gives the wisdom to discern the right path and the courage to follow it. He crowns our poor efforts with his divine gifts, just as the wind filling the sails sweeps the ship forward, far surpassing what the oarsmen can achieve through their laborious rowing. In this way, the Spirit enables men and women in every land and in every generation to become saints. Through the Spirit's action, may the young people gathered here for World Youth Day have the courage to become saints! This is what the world needs more than anything else.
Dear Australian friends, once again I thank you for your generous welcome and I look forward to spending these days with you and with the young people of the world. May God bless all who are present, all the pilgrims and all who live in this land. And may he always bless and protect the Commonwealth of Australia.

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Benedict XVI's Welcome to Youth
"Christ Offers More! Indeed He Offers Everything!"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today at Barangaroo East Darling Harbor in Sydney at the welcoming celebration of World Youth Day, under way through Sunday.
* * *

Dear Young People,

What a delight it is to greet you here at Barangaroo, on the shores of the magnificent Sydney harbour, with its famous bridge and Opera House. Many of you are local, from the outback or the dynamic multicultural communities of Australian cities. Others of you have come from the scattered islands of Oceania, and others still from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. Some of you, indeed, have come from as far as I have, Europe! Wherever we are from, we are here at last in Sydney. And together we stand in our world as God’’s family, disciples of Christ, empowered by his Spirit to be witnesses of his love and truth for everyone!

I wish firstly to thank the Aboriginal Elders who welcomed me prior to my boarding the boat at Rose Bay. I am deeply moved to stand on your land, knowing the suffering and injustices it has borne, but aware too of the healing and hope that are now at work, rightly bringing pride to all Australian citizens. To the young indigenous - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders - and the Tokelauans, I express my thanks for your stirring welcome. Through you, I send heartfelt greetings to your peoples.

Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Ryłlko, Archbishop Wilson, I thank you for your warm words of welcome. I know that your sentiments resonate in the hearts of the young gathered here this evening, and so I thank you all. Standing before me I see a vibrant image of the universal Church. The variety of nations and cultures from which you hail shows that indeed Christ’’s Good News is for everyone; it has reached the ends of the earth. Yet I know too that a good number of you are still seeking a spiritual homeland. Some of you, most welcome among us, are not Catholic or Christian. Others of you perhaps hover at th edge of parish and Church life. To you I wish to offer encouragement: step forward into Christ’’s loving embrace; recognize the Church as your home. No one need remain on the outside, for from the day of Pentecost the Church has been one and universal.

This evening I wish also to include those who are not present among us. I am thinking especially of the sick or mentally ill, young people in prison, those struggling on the margins of our societies, and those who for whatever reason feel alienated from the Church. To them I say: Jesus is close to you! Feel his healing embrace, his compassion and mercy!

Almost two thousand years ago, the Apostles, gathered in the upper room together with Mary and some faithful women, were filled with the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:4). At that extraordinary moment, which gave birth to the Church, the confusion and fear that had gripped Christ’s disciples were transformed into a vigorous conviction and sense of purpose.

They felt impelled to speak of their encounter with the risen Jesus whom they had come to call affectionately, the Lord. In many ways, the Apostles were ordinary. None could claim to be the perfect disciple. They failed to recognize Christ (cf. Lk 24:13-32), felt ashamed of their own ambition (cf. Lk 22:24-27), and had even denied him (cf. Lk 22:54-62). Yet, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, they were transfixed by the truth of Christ’s Gospel and inspired to proclaim it fearlessly.

Emboldened, they exclaimed: repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:37-38)! Grounded in the Apostles’’ teaching, in fellowship, and in the breaking of the bread and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42), the young Christian community moved forward to oppose the perversity in the culture around them (cf. Acts 2:40), to care for one another (cf. Acts 2:44-47), to defend their belief in Jesus in the face of hostility (cf Acts 4:33), and to heal the sick (cf. Acts 5:12-16). And in obedience to Christ’’s own command, they set forth, bearing witness to the greatest story ever: that God has become one of us, that the divine has entered human history in order to transform it, and that we are called to immerse ourselves in Christ’’s saving love which triumphs over evil and death. Saint Paul, in his famous speech to the Areopagus, introduced the message in this way: “God gives everything –– including life and breath –– to everyone …… so that all nations might seek God and, by feeling their way towards him, succeed in finding him. In fact he is not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 25-28).

And ever since, men and women have set out to tell the same story, witnessing to Christ’’s truth and love, and contributing to the Church’’s mission. Today, we think of those pioneering Priests, Sisters and Brothers who came to these shores, and to other parts of the Pacific, from Ireland, France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe. The great majority were young - some still in their late teens - and when they bade farewell to their parents, brothers and sisters, and friends, they knew they were unlikely ever to return home. Their whole lives were a selfless Christian witness. They became the humble but tenacious builders of so much of the social and spiritual heritage which still today brings goodness, compassion and purpose to these nations. And they went on to inspire another generation. We think immediately of the faith which sustained Blessed Mary MacKillop in her sheer determination to educate especially the poor, and Blessed Peter To Rot in his steadfast resolution that community leadership must always include the Gospel. Think also of your own grandparents and parents, your first teachers in faith. They too have made countless sacrifices of time and energy, out of love for you.

Supported by your parish priests and teachers, they have the task, not always easy but greatly satisfying, of guiding you towards all that is good and true, through their own witness - their teaching and living of our Christian faith.
Today, it is my turn. For some of us, it might seem like we have come to the end of the world! For people of your age, however, any flight is an exciting prospect. But for me, this one was somewhat daunting! Yet the views afforded of our planet from the air were truly wondrous. The sparkle of the Mediterranean, the grandeur of the north African desert, the lushness of Asia’s forestation, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the horizon upon which the sun rose and set, and the majestic splendour of Australia’s natural beauty which I have been able to enjoy these last couple of days; these all evoke a profound sense of awe. It is as though one catches glimpses of the Genesis creation story - light and darkness, the sun and the moon, the waters, the earth, and living creatures; all of which are “good” in God’’s eyes (cf. Gen 1:1 - 2:4). Immersed in such beauty, who could not echo the words of the Psalmist in praise of the Creator: “how majestic is your name in all the earth?” (Ps 8:1).

And there is more –– something hardly perceivable from the sky –– men and women, made in nothing less than God’’s own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). At the heart of the marvel of creation are you and I, the human family “crowned with glory and honour” (Ps 8:5). How astounding! With the Psalmist we whisper: “what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps 8:4). And drawn into silence, into a spirit of thanksgiving, into the power of holiness, we ponder. What do we discover? Perhaps reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption. Some of you come from island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising water levels; others from nations suffering the effects of devastating drought. God’’s wondrous creation is sometimes experienced as almost hostile to its stewards, even something dangerous. How can what is “good” appear so threatening?

And there is more. What of man, the apex of God’s creation? Every day we encounter the genius of human achievement. From advances in medical sciences and the wise application of technology, to the creativity reflected in the arts, the quality and enjoyment of people’’s lives in many ways are steadily rising. Among yourselves there is a readiness to take up the plentiful opportunities offered to you. Some of you excel in studies, sport, music, or dance and drama, others of you have a keen sense of social justice and ethics, and many of you take up service and voluntary work. All of us, young and old, have those moments when the innate goodness of the human person - perhaps glimpsed in the gesture of a little child or an adult’’s readiness to forgive - fills us with profound joy and gratitude.

Yet such moments do not last. So again, we ponder. And we discover that not only the natural but also the social environment –– the habitat we fashion for ourselves –– has its scars; wounds indicating that something is amiss. Here too, in our personal lives and in our communities, we can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created. Examples abound, as you yourselves know. Among the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment. I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation “explain” that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely “entertainment”?

There is also something sinister which stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth. This is fuelled by the notion, widely held today, that there are no absolute truths to guide our lives. Relativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made “experience” all-important. Yet, experiences, detached from any consideration of what is good or true, can lead, not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, to a lowering of standards, to a loss of self-respect, and even to despair.

Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf. Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are.

It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this –– in truth, in goodness, and in beauty –– that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything! Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life. Thus the “way” which the Apostles brought to the ends of the earth is life in Christ. This is the life of the Church. And the entrance to this life, to the Christian way, is Baptism.
This evening I wish therefore to recall briefly something of our understanding of Baptism before tomorrow considering the Holy Spirit. On the day of your Baptism, God drew you into his holiness (cf. 2 Pet 1:4). You were adopted as a son or daughter of the Father. You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling place of his Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:19). Baptism is neither an achievement, nor a reward. It is a grace; it is God’’s work. Indeed, towards the conclusion of your Baptism, the priest turned to your parents and those gathered and, calling you by your name said: “you have become a new creation” (Rite of Baptism, 99).

Dear friends, in your homes, schools and universities, in your places of work and recreation, remember that you are a new creation! Not only do you stand before the Creator in awe, rejoicing at his works, you also realize that the sure foundation of humanity’’s solidarity lies in the common origin of every person, the high-point of God’’s creative design for the world. As Christians you stand in this world knowing that God has a human face - Jesus Christ - the “way” who satisfies all human yearning, and the “life” to which we are called to bear witness, walking always in his light (cf. ibid., 100).

The task of witness is not easy. There are many today who claim that God should be left on the sidelines, and that religion and faith, while fine for individuals, should either be excluded from the public forum altogether or included only in the pursuit of limited pragmatic goals. This secularist vision seeks to explain human life and shape society with little or no reference to the Creator. It presents itself as neutral, impartial and inclusive of everyone. But in reality, like every ideology, secularism imposes a world-view. If God is irrelevant to public life, then society will be shaped in a godless image, and debate and policy concerning the public good will be driven more by consequences than by principles grounded in truth.

Yet experience shows that turning our back on the Creator’’s plan provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order (cf. 1990 World Day of Peace Message, 5). When God is eclipsed, our ability to recognize the natural order, purpose, and the “good” begins to wane. What was ostensibly promoted as human ingenuity soon manifests itself as folly, greed and selfish exploitation. And so we have become more and more aware of our need for humility before the delicate complexity of God’s world.

But what of our social environment? Are we equally alert to the signs of turning our back on the moral structure with which God has endowed humanity (cf. 2007 World Day of Peace Message, 8)? Do we recognize that the innate dignity of every individual rests on his or her deepest identity - as image of the Creator - and therefore that human rights are universal, based on the natural law, and not something dependent upon negotiation or patronage, let alone compromise?

And so we are led to reflect on what place the poor and the elderly, immigrants and the voiceless, have in our societies. How can it be that domestic violence torments so many mothers and children? How can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space –– the womb –– has become a place of unutterable violence?

My dear friends, God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable. Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Let this be the message that you bring from Sydney to the world!

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VATICAN CITY, 18 JUL 2008 (VIS) - This morning, after celebrating Mass in the chapel of Cathedral House in Sydney, the Holy Father received in private audiences Marie Bashir, governor of New South Wales; Morris Iemma, premier of New South Wales, and Clover Moore, mayor of Sydney, each accompanied by members of their family.

   Shortly before 10.30 a .m., Benedict XVI went to the crypt of St. Mary's Cathedral where he presided at an ecumenical meeting with 40 representatives of other Churches and Christian confessions, and with members of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council. Following introductory greetings from Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, and Anglican Bishop Robert Forsyth of Sydney , the Pope pronounced an address:

Papal Address at Ecumenical Meeting
"The Ecumenical Movement Has Reached a Critical Juncture"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Friday morning local time at an ecumenical meeting in Sydney. The Pope is in Australia for the 23rd World Youth Day, under way through Sunday.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I give heartfelt thanks to God for this opportunity to meet and pray with all of you who have come here representing various Christian communities in Australia. Grateful for Bishop Forsyth's and Cardinal Pell's words of welcome, I joyfully greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus, the "cornerstone" of the "household of God" (Eph 2:19-20).

I would like to offer a particular greeting to Cardinal Edward Cassidy, former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who, due to ill health, could not be with us today. I recall with gratitude his steadfast dedication to improving mutual understanding among all Christians, and I would ask all of you to join me in praying for his speedy recovery.

Australia is a country marked by much ethnic and religious diversity. Immigrants arrive on the shores of this majestic land hoping to find happiness and opportunities for employment. Yours, too, is a nation which recognizes the importance of religious freedom. This is a fundamental right which, when respected, allows citizens to act upon values which are rooted in their deepest beliefs, contributing thus to the well-being of society. In this way, Christians cooperate, together with members of other religions, for the promotion of human dignity and for fellowship among all nations. Australians cherish cordial and frank discussion. This has served the ecumenical movement well. An example would be the Covenant signed in 2004 by the members of the National Council of Churches in Australia. This document recognizes a common commitment, sets out goals, and acknowledges points of convergence without glossing over differences.

Such an approach demonstrates not only the possibility of formulating concrete resolutions for fruitful cooperation in the present day, but also the need to continue patient discussion on theological points of difference. May your ongoing deliberations in the Council of Churches and in other local forums be sustained by what you have already achieved.

This year we celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Saint Paul, a tireless worker for unity in the early Church. In the scripture passage we have just heard, Paul reminds us of the tremendous grace we have received in becoming members of Christ's body through baptism. This sacrament, the entryway to the Church and the "bond of unity" for everyone reborn through it (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 22), is accordingly the point of departure for the entire ecumenical movement. Yet it is not the final destination. The road of ecumenism ultimately points towards a common celebration of the Eucharist (cf. Ut Unum Sint, 23-24; 45), which Christ entrusted to his Apostles as the sacrament of the Church's unity par excellence. Although there are still obstacles to be overcome, we can be sure that a common Eucharist one day would only strengthen our resolve to love and serve one another in imitation of our Lord: for Jesus' commandment to "do this in memory of me" (Lk 22:19) is intrinsically ordered to his admonition to "wash one another's feet" (Jn 13:14). For this reason, a candid dialogue concerning the place of the Eucharist - stimulated by a renewed and attentive study of scripture, patristic writings, and documents from across the two millennia of Christian history (cf. Ut Unum Sint, 69-70) - will undoubtedly help to advance the ecumenical movement and unify our witness to the world.

Dear friends in Christ, I think you would agree that the ecumenical movement has reached a critical juncture. To move forward, we must continually ask God to renew our minds with the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 12:2), who speaks to us through the scriptures and guides us into all truth (cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21; Jn 16:13). We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live. In fact, the history of the Church demonstrates that praxis is not only inseparable from, but actually flows out of didache or teaching. The more closely we strive for a deeper understanding of the divine mysteries, the more eloquently our works of charity will speak of God's bountiful goodness and love towards all. Saint Augustine expressed the nexus between the gift of understanding and the virtue of charity when he wrote that the mind returns to God by love (cf. De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae, XII, 21), and that wherever one sees charity, one sees the Trinity (De Trinitate, 8, 8, 12).

For this reason, ecumenical dialogue advances not only through an exchange of ideas but by a sharing in mutually enriching gifts (cf. Ut Unum Sint, 28; 57). An "idea" aims at truth; a "gift" expresses love. Both are essential to dialogue. Opening ourselves to accept spiritual gifts from other Christians quickens our ability to perceive the light of truth which comes from the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul teaches that it is within the koinonia of the Church that we have access to and the means of safeguarding the truth of the Gospel, for the Church is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets" with Jesus himself as the cornerstone (Eph 2:20).

In this light, perhaps we might consider the complementary biblical images of "body" and "temple" used to describe the Church. By employing the image of a body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-31), Paul draws attention to the organic unity and diversity that allows the Church to breathe and grow. Equally significant, however, is the image of a solid, well-structured temple composed of living stones rising on its sure foundation. Jesus himself brings together in perfect unity these images of "temple" and "body" (cf. Jn 2:21-22; Lk 23:45; Rev 21:22).

Every element of the Church's structure is important, yet all of them would falter and crumble without the cornerstone who is Christ. As "fellow citizens" of the "household of God", Christians must work together to ensure that the edifice stands strong so that others will be attracted to enter and discover the abundant treasures of grace within. As we promote Christian values, we must not neglect to proclaim their source by giving a common witness to Jesus Christ the Lord. It is he who commissioned the apostles, he whom the prophets preached, and he whom we offer to the world. Dear friends, your presence fills me with the ardent hope that as we pursue together the path to full unity, we will have the courage to give common witness to Christ. Paul speaks of the importance of the prophets in the early Church; we too have received a prophetic calling through our baptism. I am confident that the Spirit will open our eyes to see the gifts of others, our hearts to receive his power, and our minds to perceive the light of Christ's truth. I express heartfelt thanks to all of you for the time, scholarship and talent which you have invested for the sake of the "one body and one spirit" (Eph 4:4; cf. 1 Cor 12:13) which the Lord willed for his people and for which he gave his very life. All glory and power be to him for ever and ever. Amen!

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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VATICAN CITY, 18 JUL 2008 (VIS) - Following today's ecumenical meeting, the Pope met with representatives of other religions in the chapter house of St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

  Having been greeted by a representative from the Jewish community, and another from the Muslim community, the Pope began his talk by reiterating once again that Australia "is a nation that holds freedom of religion in high regard".

Papal Address at Interreligious Meeting
"Schools Could Do Even More to Nurture the Spiritual Dimension"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Friday morning local time at an interreligious meeting in Sydney. The Pope is in Australia for the 23rd World Youth Day, under way through Sunday.

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Dear Friends,

I extend cordial greetings of peace and goodwill to all of you who are here representing various religious traditions in Australia. Grateful for this encounter, I thank Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence and Sheikh Shardy for the words of welcome which they expressed in their own name and on behalf of your respective communities.

Australia is renowned for the congeniality of its people towards neighbour and visitor alike. It is a nation that holds freedom of religion in high regard. Your country recognizes that a respect for this fundamental right gives men and women the latitude to worship God according to their conscience, to nurture their spirits, and to act upon the ethical convictions that stem from their beliefs.

A harmonious relationship between religion and public life is all the more important at a time when some people have come to consider religion as a cause of division rather than a force for unity. In a world threatened by sinister and indiscriminate forms of violence, the unified voice of religious people urges nations and communities to resolve conflicts through peaceful means and with full regard for human dignity. One of the many ways religion stands at the service of mankind is by offering a vision of the human person that highlights our innate aspiration to live generously, forging bonds of friendship with our neighbours. At their core, human relations cannot be defined in terms of power, domination and self-interest. Rather, they reflect and perfect man's natural inclination to live in communion and accord with others.

The religious sense planted within the human heart opens men and women to God and leads them to discover that personal fulfilment does not consist in the selfish gratification of ephemeral desires. Rather, it leads us to meet the needs of others and to search for concrete ways to contribute to the common good. Religions have a special role in this regard, for they teach people that authentic service requires sacrifice and self-discipline, which in turn must be cultivated through self-denial, temperance and a moderate use of the world's goods. In this way, men and women are led to regard the environment as a marvel to be pondered and respected rather than a commodity for mere consumption. It is incumbent upon religious people to demonstrate that it is possible to find joy in living simply and modestly, generously sharing one's surplus with those suffering from want.

Friends, these values, I am sure you will agree, are particularly important to the adequate formation of young people, who are so often tempted to view life itself as a commodity. They also have an aptitude for self-mastery: indeed, in sports, the creative arts, and in academic studies, they readily welcome it as a challenge. Is it not true that when presented with high ideals, many young people are attracted to asceticism and the practice of moral virtue through self-respect and a concern for others? They delight in contemplating the gift of creation and are intrigued by the mystery of the transcendent. In this regard, both faith schools and State schools could do even more to nurture the spiritual dimension of every young person. In Australia, as elsewhere, religion has been a motivating factor in the foundation of many educational institutions, and rightly it continues to occupy a place in school curricula today. The theme of education frequently emerges from the deliberations of the Interfaith Cooperation for Peace and Harmony, and I warmly encourage those participating in this initiative to continue the conversation about the values that integrate the intellectual, human and religious dimensions of a sound education.

The world's religions draw constant attention to the wonder of human existence. Who can help but marvel at the power of the mind to grasp the secrets of nature through scientific discovery? Who is not stirred by the possibility of forming a vision for the future? Who is not impressed by the power of the human spirit to set goals and to develop ways of achieving them? Men and women are endowed with the ability not only to imagine how things might be better, but to invest their energies to make them better. We are conscious of our unique relationship to the natural realm. If, then, we believe that we are not subject to the laws of the material universe in the same way as the rest of creation, should we not make goodness, compassion, freedom, solidarity, and respect for every individual an essential part of our vision for a more humane future?

Yet religion, by reminding us of human finitude and weakness, also enjoins us not to place our ultimate hope in this passing world. Man is "like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow" (Ps 144:4). All of us have experienced the disappointment of falling short of the good we wish to accomplish and the difficulty of making the right choice in complex situations.

The Church shares these observations with other religions. Motivated by charity, she approaches dialogue believing that the true source of freedom is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians believe it is he who fully discloses the human potential for virtue and goodness, and he who liberates us from sin and darkness. The universality of human experience, which transcends all geographical boundaries and cultural limitations, makes it possible for followers of religions to engage in dialogue so as to grapple with the mystery of life's joys and sufferings. In this regard, the Church eagerly seeks opportunities to listen to the spiritual experience of other religions. We could say that all religions aim to penetrate the profound meaning of human existence by linking it to an origin or principle outside itself. Religions offer an attempt to understand the cosmos as coming from and returning to this origin or principle. Christians believe that God has revealed this origin and principle in Jesus, whom the Bible refers to as the "Alpha and Omega" (cf. Rev 1:8; 22:1).

My dear friends, I have come to Australia as an ambassador of peace. For this reason, I feel blessed to meet you who likewise share this yearning and the desire to help the world attain it. Our quest for peace goes hand in hand with our search for meaning, for it is in discovering the truth that we find the sure road to peace (cf. Message for World Day of Peace, 2006). Our effort to bring about reconciliation between peoples springs from, and is directed to, that truth which gives purpose to life. Religion offers peace, but more importantly, it arouses within the human spirit a thirst for truth and a hunger for virtue. May we encourage everyone - especially the young - to marvel at the beauty of life, to seek its ultimate meaning, and to strive to realize its sublime potential!

With these sentiments of respect and encouragement, I commend you to the providence of Almighty God, and I assure you of my prayers for you and your loved ones, the members of your communities, and all the citizens of Australia.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 Following the meeting, the Holy Father returned to Cathedral House where he had lunch with Cardinal George Pell and twelve young people from various countries: a young man and young woman from each of the continents, and a young man and young woman from Australia .

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Papal Homily at Mass With Australian Clergy
"We Can Be Tempted to Make Faith a Matter of Sentiment"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 18, 2008 - Here is the text of the homily Benedict XVI gave at Mass with Australian bishops and clergy on Saturday morning local time.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this noble cathedral I rejoice to greet my brother Bishops and priests, and the deacons, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Sydney. In a very special way, my greeting goes to the seminarians and young religious who are present among us. Like the young Israelites in today's first reading, they are a sign of hope and renewal for God's people; and, like those young Israelites, they will have the task of building up the Lord's house in the coming generation. As we admire this magnificent edifice, how can we not think of all those ranks of priests, religious and faithful laity who, each in his or her own way, contributed to the building up of the Church in Australia? Our thoughts turn in particular to those settler families to whom Father Jeremiah O'Flynn entrusted the Blessed Sacrament at his departure, a "small flock" which cherished and preserved that precious treasure, passing it on to the succeeding generations who raised this great tabernacle to the glory of God. Let us rejoice in their fidelity and perseverance, and dedicate ourselves to carrying on their labours for the spread of the Gospel, the conversion of hearts and the growth of the Church in holiness, unity and charity!

We are about to celebrate the dedication of the new altar of this venerable cathedral. As its sculpted frontal powerfully reminds us, every altar is a symbol of Jesus Christ, present in the midst of his Church as priest, altar and victim (cf. Preface of Easter V). Crucified, buried and raised from the dead, given life in the Spirit and seated at the right hand of the Father, Christ has become our great high priest, eternally making intercession for us. In the Church's liturgy, and above all in the sacrifice of the Mass consummated on the altars of the world, he invites us, the members of his mystical Body, to share in his self-oblation. He calls us, as the priestly people of the new and eternal covenant, to offer, in union with him, our own daily sacrifices for the salvation of the world.

In today's liturgy the Church reminds us that, like this altar, we too have been consecrated, set "apart" for the service of God and the building up of his Kingdom. All too often, however, we find ourselves immersed in a world that would set God "aside". In the name of human freedom and autonomy, God's name is passed over in silence, religion is reduced to private devotion, and faith is shunned in the public square. At times this mentality, so completely at odds with the core of the Gospel, can even cloud our own understanding of the Church and her mission. We too can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment, thus blunting its power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and a rigorous dialogue with the many other visions competing for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries.

Yet history, including the history of our own time, shows that the question of God will never be silenced, and that indifference to the religious dimension of human existence ultimately diminishes and betrays man himself. Is that not the message which is proclaimed by the magnificent architecture of this cathedral? Is that not the mystery of faith which will be proclaimed from this altar at every celebration of the Eucharist? Faith teaches us that in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, we come to understand the grandeur of our own humanity, the mystery of our life on this earth, and the sublime destiny which awaits us in heaven (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 24). Faith teaches us that we are God's creatures, made in his image and likeness, endowed with an inviolable dignity, and called to eternal life. Wherever man is diminished, the world around us is also diminished; it loses its ultimate meaning and strays from its goal. What emerges is a culture, not of life, but of death. How could this be considered "progress"? It is a backward step, a form of regression which ultimately dries up the very sources of life for individuals and all of society.

We know that in the end - as Saint Ignatius of Loyola saw so clearly - the only real "standard" against which all human reality can be measured is the Cross and its message of an unmerited love which triumphs over evil, sin and death, creating new life and unfading joy. The Cross reveals that we find ourselves only by giving our lives away, receiving God's love as an unmerited gift and working to draw all men and women into the beauty of that love and the light of the truth which alone brings salvation to the world. It is in this truth - this mystery of faith - that we have been "consecrated" (cf. Jn 17:17-19), and it is in this truth that we are called to grow, with the help of God's grace, in daily fidelity to his word, within the life-giving communion of the Church. Yet how difficult is this path of consecration! It demands continual "conversion", a sacrificial death to self which is the condition for belonging fully to God, a change of mind and heart which brings true freedom and a new breadth of vision. Today's liturgy offers an eloquent symbol of that progressive spiritual transformation to which each of us is called. From the sprinkling of water, the proclamation of God's word and the invocation of all the saints, to the prayer of consecration, the anointing and washing of the altar, its being clothed in white and apparelled in light - all these rites invite us to re-live our own consecration in Baptism. They invite us to reject sin and its false allure, and to drink ever more deeply from the life-giving springs of God's grace.

Dear friends, may this celebration, in the presence of the Successor of Peter, be a moment of rededication and renewal for the whole Church in Australia! Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain and have damaged the Church's witness. I ask all of you to support and assist your Bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people. In these days marked by the celebration of World Youth Day, we are reminded of how precious a treasure has been entrusted to us in our young people, and how great a part of the Church's mission in this country has been dedicated to their education and care. As the Church in Australia continues, in the spirit of the Gospel, to address effectively this serious pastoral challenge, I join you in praying that this time of purification will bring about healing, reconciliation and ever greater fidelity to the moral demands of the Gospel.

I wish now to turn to the seminarians and young religious in our midst, with a special word of affection and encouragement. Dear friends: with great generosity you have set out on a particular path of consecration, grounded in your Baptism and undertaken in response to the Lord's personal call. You have committed yourselves, in different ways, to accepting Christ's invitation to follow him, to leave all behind, and to devote your lives to the pursuit of holiness and the service of his people.

In today's Gospel, the Lord calls us to "believe in the light" (Jn 12:36). These words have a special meaning for you, dear young seminarians and religious. They are a summons to trust in the truth of God's word and to hope firmly in his promises. They invite us to see, with the eyes of faith, the infallible working of his grace all around us, even in those dark times when all our efforts seem to be in vain. Let this altar, with its powerful image of Christ the Suffering Servant, be a constant inspiration to you. Certainly there are times when every faithful disciple will feel the heat and the burden of the day (cf. Mt 20:12), and the struggle of bearing prophetic witness before a world which can appear deaf to the demands of God's word. Do not be afraid! Believe in the light! Take to heart the truth which we have heard in today's second reading: "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever" (Heb 13:8). The light of Easter continues to dispel the darkness!

The Lord also calls us to walk in the light (cf. Jn 12:35). Each of you has embarked on the greatest and the most glorious of all struggles, to be consecrated in truth, to grow in virtue, to achieve harmony between your thoughts and ideals, and your words and actions. Enter sincerely and deeply into the discipline and spirit of your programmes of formation. Walk in Christ's light daily through fidelity to personal and liturgical prayer, nourished by meditation on the inspired word of God. The Fathers of the Church loved to see the Scriptures as a spiritual Eden, a garden where we can walk freely with God, admiring the beauty and harmony of his saving plan as it bears fruit in our own lives, in the life of the Church and in all of history. Let prayer, then, and meditation on God's word, be the lamp which illumines, purifies and guides your steps along the path which the Lord has marked out for you. Make the daily celebration of the Eucharist the centre of your life. At each Mass, when the Lord's Body and Blood are lifted up at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, lift up your own hearts and lives, through Christ, with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, as a loving sacrifice to God our Father.

In this way, dear young seminarians and religious, you yourselves will become living altars, where Christ's sacrificial love is made present as an inspiration and a source of spiritual nourishment to everyone you meet. By embracing the Lord's call to follow him in chastity, poverty and obedience, you have begun a journey of radical discipleship which will make you "signs of contradiction" (cf. Lk 2:34) to many of your contemporaries. Model your lives daily on the Lord's own loving self-oblation in obedience to the will of the Father. You will then discover the freedom and joy which can draw others to the Love which lies beyond all other loves as their source and their ultimate fulfilment. Never forget that celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom means embracing a life completely devoted to love, a love that enables you to commit yourselves fully to God's service and to be totally present to your brothers and sisters, especially those in need. The greatest treasures that you share with other young people - your idealism, your generosity, your time and energy - these are the very sacrifices which you are placing upon the Lord's altar. May you always cherish this beautiful charism which God has given you for his glory and the building up of the Church!

Dear friends, let me conclude these reflections by drawing your attention to the great stained glass window in the chancel of this cathedral. There Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, is represented enthroned in majesty beside her divine Son. The artist has represented Mary, as the new Eve, offering an apple to Christ, the new Adam. This gesture symbolizes her reversal of our first parents' disobedience, the rich fruit which God's grace bore in her own life, and the first fruits of that redeemed and glorified humanity which she has preceded into the glory of heaven. Let us ask Mary, Help of Christians, to sustain the Church in Australia in fidelity to that grace by which the Crucified Lord even now "draws to himself" all creation and every human heart (cf. Jn 12:32). May the power of his Holy Spirit consecrate the faithful of this land in truth, and bring forth abundant fruits of holiness and justice for the redemption of the world. May it guide all humanity into the fullness of life around that Altar, where, in the glory of the heavenly liturgy, we are called to sing God's praises for ever. Amen.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Rabbi's Welcome of the Pope
"Our Shared Points of Origin Should Bind Us Together"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 18, 2008 - Here is the text of the welcome address by Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence at the interreligious meeting attended by Benedict XVI in Sydney. The Friday meeting gathered some 20 religious leaders in the Chapter Hall at St Mary's Cathedral.

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Your Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Our host, his Eminence Cardinal Pell
Your eminences & reverend brethren.

Shalom.

It is my great pleasure and a great honour to welcome you to Sydney on behalf of the Australian Jewish community.

With me, I am delighted to present our elected federal and state lay leaders, Robert Goot and David Knoll, senior clerical colleagues, Rabbi Jeffery Kamins & Rabbi Zalman Kastel; our executive leaders, Josie Lacey and John Landerer, and our youth representatives, Judith Levitan, and Josh Levin.

Ours is a historic community, which can trace its origins to individuals who arrived in Sydney in 1788 on the First Fleet. Ours is a community which has enjoyed unbroken acceptance and equality from those initial days. Our community has flourished under the opportunities this beautiful country has afforded it. Our community has been proud to serve Australia. It has seen Jewish Governors General, distinguished law officers, leaders of education, welfare, medicine and philanthropy.

For some weeks, I have been asked from all quarters what it means to participate in this historic event. There is of course, delight, in any encounter with a person of great stature, who has devoted so much of his life to the spiritual enrichment of our world. On a personal level, I am bound to reflect that my grandparents, who were born in Berlin had to flee from there, just 70 years ago. Their parents, grandparents and siblings perished. When I am asked what it means for me to participate in this historic event, my very first reaction is that for them, and for their generation, such an encounter as today's would have been unthinkable; it would be quite beyond their imagination. So here we are in what is a different world, and in this respect a better world. It is a world which has become enriched and improved to a great part through the endeavours and enterprises of you and your worthy predecessors at the Vatican.

We recall, in particular, the humanity and wisdom of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. We reflect upon the landmark of Nostra Aetate, whose 40th anniversary we celebrated in October 2005 at my synagogue, The Great Synagogue, just across the park. It was our pleasure, then, to host a number of your distinguished Cardinals, amongst them, Cardinal Cassidy, whose personal contribution to interfaith work, and whose excellent relations with our Jewish community have helped to chart these new, positive, fraternal paths.

We recall, too, the significant acknowledgement by your predecessor, that anti-Semitism is a sin, with no place in Catholicism, no place in civilisation. We welcome his endorsement, that "at all levels of Christian instruction and education" be it teaching, preaching or dramatisation "Catholic teaching. . . presents Jews and Judaism... in an honest and objective manner, free from prejudices and without any offenses... an awareness of our common heritage" to "uproot the remains of anti-Semitism amongst the faithful."

Your Holiness,

Our Jewish liturgy contains blessings for seeing powerful leaders and great scholars - shenatan michvodo uchochmato levasar vedam - We bless God, who has imparted of his glory and his wisdom to flesh and blood. What do we mean, he has imparted of His glory? When God gives of His glory and His wisdom, it is no empty gift. God's glory and wisdom are purposeful and focused; they are a mandate, a charge. Though entrusted to us, they should remain His wisdom and His Glory. They are perceived and worthy of blessing when they are applied for the betterment of humanity and of His world.

Your Holiness, such is our welcome and blessing. That you may continue to illuminate humankind in the love of their fellows, their brothers, their sisters and love of God. That through such encounters as these, the positives of faith are emphasised over the disagreements. Our shared concerns for the environment, for the preservation of our climate and biodiversity... Our reverence for the sanctity of life, for the dignity of humankind in the home and in the workplace; for social justice, freedom from oppression, discrimination or persecution... Our faiths teach that we are all children of one body cast in God's image. Our two faiths revere that moment almost 3,500 years ago, when the people of Israel heard the voice of God at Sinai. There, he entrusted us with the mission and the message of holy living and the celebration of God in all aspects of our lives and to share it with our world.

Though we may differ profoundly in the details or interpretations, our shared points of origin should bind us together with an amity which is greater than the discord from our point of departure and our points of disagreement.

Your Holiness,

Faith is a teacher, a healer and a well-spring of peace. The Catholic community's celebration of World Youth Day, the magnificent program and enthusiastic participation by so many, highlights the continuing significance of faith in our world and among its youth. They have come in their hundreds of thousands to be close to you. They shall leave, richer and wiser, infused with the messages you impart.

Today's encounter reflects your Holiness' commitment to our ongoing dialogue. It is my prayer that its witnesses will learn from it, not only that faith is alive and is relevant and that it wears many robes... May they also learn from you, that faith is about respect for the humanity in us all, respect for the soul with which God has endowed each one of us; that we are each born the image of God, whatever creed, whatever colour... Our Scriptures elaborate on our love for our fellows, our neighbours and the stranger. Our world is shrinking and draws us all closer. For the sake of humanity, we must turn the strangers into our neighbours and our neighbours into our friends. We must celebrate the pioneers and the programs, who bring children of different backgrounds together to embark on shared projects of care and welfare; in the classroom, the Sunday school and the youth movements; who turn stereotypes of Jews, Christians and Moslems into human beings into friends and partners in a shared global village. We must follow their example, turn discussion into deed, ideas into action, together for humanity.

Your Holiness,

In the words of Deuteronomy, Baruch atah bevoecha - May the Almighty bless your coming here - for raising the spiritual profile of our city and awareness of faith in our society. Uvaruch atah betzaytecha - may you be blessed upon your departure, to return to your home in health. There, may you continue your dialogue with our religious leadership, with the rabbis and scholars who have facilitated the last four decades of rapprochement. When our time comes and our souls meet the souls of those who came before; I think of my grandparents and great-grandparents... They will see that we were fortunate to live in better times than they. May they also see as our legacy that we have made our world an even better world for our children and all God's children; and that through our endeavours we have made God's name greater for all humanity.

Your Holiness,

On behalf of the Jewish community, it is my honour and my pleasure, to welcome you to Sydney.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence
Senior Rabbi
The Great Synagogue, Sydney

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VATICAN CITY, 18 JUL 2008 (VIS) - At 3 p.m. local time today on the square in front of St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Benedict XVI led the first station of the Way of the Cross, which is traditionally celebrated by young people during World Youth Days. At the end of his prayer, the Pope descended into the crypt of the cathedral to follow a televised transmission of the remaining stations of the Cross through the streets of Sydney . The event was also shown on giant screens set up along the route.

  At the end of the Way of the Cross, the Pope traveled by car to the University of Notre Dame Australia, which was founded by an Act of the Parliament of Western Australia in 1989 and enrolled its first students in 1992. The institution's various faculties focus on Catholic pastoral concern for ethical and humanistic values.

  On his arrival, the Pope was greeted by the chancellor of the university who accompanied him to the Sacred Heart chapel. There the pontiff met young people with histories of drug addiction and other problems, who are following the "Alive" rehabilitation programme.

  The name of the rehabilitation programme was the central focus of the Holy Father's remarks. He recalled Moses' words in the Old Testament: "'I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live in the love of the Lord your God, ... for in this your life consists'.


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Pope's Address at Youth Day Vigil
"Let Us Pray for the Resolve to Nurture Unity"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 19, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave at the World Youth Day vigil Saturday night at the Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.

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Dear Young People,

Once again this evening we have heard Christ’s great promise – "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you". And we have heard his summons – "be my witnesses throughout the world" – (Acts 1:8). These were the very last words which Jesus spoke before his Ascension into heaven. How the Apostles felt upon hearing them, we can only imagine. But we do know that their deep love for Jesus, and their trust in his word, prompted them to gather and to wait; to wait not aimlessly, but together, united in prayer, with the women and Mary in the Upper Room (cf. Acts 1:14). Tonight, we do the same. Gathered before our much-travelled Cross and the icon of Mary, and under the magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross, we pray. Tonight, I am praying for you and for young people throughout the world. Be inspired by the example of your Patrons! Accept into your hearts and minds the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit! Recognize and believe in the power of the Spirit in your lives!

The other day we talked of the unity and harmony of God’s creation and our place within it. We recalled how in the great gift of baptism we, who are made in God’s image and likeness, have been reborn, we have become God’s adopted children, a new creation. And so it is as children of Christ’s light – symbolized by the lit candles you now hold – that we bear witness in our world to the radiance no darkness can overcome (cf. Jn 1:5).

Tonight we focus our attention on how to become witnesses. We need to understand the person of the Holy Spirit and his vivifying presence in our lives. This is not easy to comprehend. Indeed the variety of images found in scripture referring to the Spirit – wind, fire, breath – indicate our struggle to articulate an understanding of him. Yet we do know that it is the Holy Spirit who, though silent and unseen, gives direction and definition to our witness to Jesus Christ.

You are already well aware that our Christian witness is offered to a world which in many ways is fragile. The unity of God’s creation is weakened by wounds which run particularly deep when social relations break apart, or when the human spirit is all but crushed through the exploitation and abuse of persons. Indeed, society today is being fragmented by a way of thinking that is inherently short-sighted, because it disregards the full horizon of truth– the truth about God and about us. By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles which enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony.

What is our response, as Christian witnesses, to a divided and fragmented world? How can we offer the hope of peace, healing and harmony to those "stations" of conflict, suffering, and tension through which you have chosen to march with this World Youth Day Cross? Unity and reconciliation cannot be achieved through our efforts alone. God has made us for one another (cf. Gen 2:24) and only in God and his Church can we find the unity we seek. Yet, in the face of imperfections and disappointments – both individual and institutional – we are sometimes tempted to construct artificially a "perfect" community. That temptation is not new. The history of the Church includes many examples of attempts to bypass or override human weaknesses or failures in order to create a perfect unity, a spiritual utopia.

Such attempts to construct unity in fact undermine it! To separate the Holy Spirit from Christ present in the Church’s institutional structure would compromise the unity of the Christian community, which is precisely the Spirit’s gift! It would betray the nature of the Church as the living temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 3:16). It is the Spirit, in fact, who guides the Church in the way of all truth and unifies her in communion and in the works of ministry (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4). Unfortunately the temptation to "go it alone" persists. Some today portray their local community as somehow separate from the so-called institutional Church, by speaking of the former as flexible and open to the Spirit and the latter as rigid and devoid of the Spirit.

Unity is of the essence of the Church (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 813); it is a gift we must recognize and cherish. Tonight, let us pray for the resolve to nurture unity: contribute to it! resist any temptation to walk away! For it is precisely the comprehensiveness, the vast vision, of our faith – solid yet open, consistent yet dynamic, true yet constantly growing in insight – that we can offer our world. Dear young people, is it not because of your faith that friends in difficulty or seeking meaning in their lives have turned to you? Be watchful! Listen! Through the dissonance and division of our world, can you hear the concordant voice of humanity? From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity. Who satisfies that essential human yearning to be one, to be immersed in communion, to be built up, to be led to truth? The Holy Spirit! This is the Spirit’s role: to bring Christ’s work to fulfilment. Enriched with the Spirit’s gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!

Friends, when reciting the Creed we state: "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life". The "Creator Spirit" is the power of God giving life to all creation and the source of new and abundant life in Christ. The Spirit sustains the Church in union with the Lord and in fidelity to the apostolic Tradition. He inspired the Sacred Scriptures and he guides God’s People into the fullness of truth (cf. Jn 16:13) In all these ways the Spirit is the "giver of life", leading us into the very heart of God. So, the more we allow the Spirit to direct us, the more perfect will be our configuration to Christ and the deeper our immersion in the life of the Triune God.

This sharing in God’s nature (cf. 2 Pet 1:4) occurs in the unfolding of the everyday moments of our lives where he is always present (cf. Bar 3:38). There are times, however, when we might be tempted to seek a certain fulfilment apart from God. Jesus himself asked the Twelve: "do you also wish to go away?" Such drifting away perhaps offers the illusion of freedom. But where does it lead? To whom would we go? For in our hearts we know that it is the Lord who has "the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:67-68). To turn away from him is only a futile attempt to escape from ourselves (cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions VIII, 7). God is with us in the reality of life, not the fantasy! It is embrace, not escape, that we seek! So the Holy Spirit gently but surely steers us back to what is real, what is lasting, what is true. It is the Spirit who leads us back into the communion of the Blessed Trinity!

The Holy Spirit has been in some ways the neglected person of the Blessed Trinity. A clear understanding of the Spirit almost seems beyond our reach. Yet, when I was a small boy, my parents, like yours, taught me the Sign of the Cross. So, I soon came to realize that there is one God in three Persons, and that the Trinity is the centre of our Christian faith and life. While I grew up to have some understanding of God the Father and the Son – the names already conveyed much – my understanding of the third person of the Trinity remained incomplete. So, as a young priest teaching theology, I decided to study the outstanding witnesses to the Spirit in the Church’s history. It was on this journey that I found myself reading, among others, the great Saint Augustine.

Augustine’s understanding of the Holy Spirit evolved gradually; it was a struggle. As a young man he had followed Manichaeism - one of those attempts I mentioned earlier, to create a spiritual utopia by radically separating the things of the spirit from the things of the flesh. Hence he was at first suspicious of the Christian teaching that God had become man. Yet his experience of the love of God present in the Church led him to investigate its source in the life of the Triune God. This led him to three particular insights about the Holy Spirit as the bond of unity within the Blessed Trinity: unity as communion, unity as abiding love, and unity as giving and gift. These three insights are not just theoretical. They help explain how the Spirit works. In a world where both individuals and communities often suffer from an absence of unity or cohesion, these insights help us remain attuned to the Spirit and to extend and clarify the scope of our witness.

So, with Augustine’s help, let us illustrate something of the Holy Spirit’s work. He noted that the two words "Holy" and "Spirit" refer to what is divine about God; in other words what is shared by the Father and the Son – their communion. So, if the distinguishing characteristic of the Holy Spirit is to be what is shared by the Father and the Son, Augustine concluded that the Spirit’s particular quality is unity. It is a unity of lived communion: a unity of persons in a relationship of constant giving, the Father and the Son giving themselves to each other. We begin to glimpse, I think, how illuminating is this understanding of the Holy Spirit as unity, as communion. True unity could never be founded upon relationships which deny the equal dignity of other persons. Nor is unity simply the sum total of the groups through which we sometimes attempt to "define" ourselves. In fact, only in the life of communion is unity sustained and human identity fulfilled: we recognize the common need for God, we respond to the unifying presence of the Holy Spirit, and we give ourselves to one another in service.

Augustine’s second insight – the Holy Spirit as abiding love – comes from his study of the First Letter of Saint John. John tells us that "God is love" (1 Jn 4:16). Augustine suggests that while these words refer to the Trinity as a whole they express a particular characteristic of the Holy Spirit. Reflecting on the lasting nature of love - "whoever abides in love remains in God and God in him" (ibid.) - he wondered: is it love or the Holy Spirit which grants the abiding? This is the conclusion he reaches: "The Holy Spirit makes us remain in God and God in us; yet it is love that effects this. The Spirit therefore is God as love!" (De Trinitate, 15.17.31). It is a beautiful explanation: God shares himself as love in the Holy Spirit. What further understanding might we gain from this insight? Love is the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit! Ideas or voices which lack love – even if they seem sophisticated or knowledgeable – cannot be "of the Spirit". Furthermore, love has a particular trait: far from being indulgent or fickle, it has a task or purpose to fulfil: to abide. By its nature love is enduring. Again, dear friends, we catch a further glimpse of how much the Holy Spirit offers our world: love which dispels uncertainty; love which overcomes the fear of betrayal; love which carries eternity within; the true love which draws us into a unity that abides!

The third insight – the Holy Spirit as gift – Augustine derived from meditating on a Gospel passage we all know and love: Christ’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. Here Jesus reveals himself as the giver of the living water (cf. Jn 4:10) which later is explained as the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 7:39; 1 Cor 12:13). The Spirit is "God’s gift" (Jn 4:10) - the internal spring (cf. Jn 4:14), who truly satisfies our deepest thirst and leads us to the Father. From this observation Augustine concludes that God sharing himself with us as gift is the Holy Spirit (cf. De Trinitate, 15, 18, 32). Friends, again we catch a glimpse of the Trinity at work: the Holy Spirit is God eternally giving himself; like a never-ending spring he pours forth nothing less than himself. In view of this ceaseless gift, we come to see the limitations of all that perishes, the folly of the consumerist mindset. We begin to understand why the quest for novelty leaves us unsatisfied and wanting. Are we not looking for an eternal gift? The spring that will never run dry? With the Samaritan woman, let us exclaim: give me this water that I may thirst no more! (cf. Jn 4:15).

Dear young people, we have seen that it is the Holy Spirit who brings about the wonderful communion of believers in Jesus Christ. True to his nature as giver and gift alike, he is even now working through you. Inspired by the insights of Saint Augustine: let unifying love be your measure; abiding love your challenge; self-giving love your mission!

Tomorrow, that same gift of the Spirit will be solemnly conferred upon our confirmation candidates. I shall pray: "give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence … and fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe". These gifts of the Spirit – each of which, as Saint Francis de Sales reminds us, is a way to participate in the one love of God – are neither prizes nor rewards. They are freely given (cf. 1 Cor 12:11). And they require only one response on the part of the receiver: I accept! Here we sense something of the deep mystery of being Christian. What constitutes our faith is not primarily what we do but what we receive. After all, many generous people who are not Christian may well achieve far more than we do. Friends, do you accept being drawn into God’s Trinitarian life? Do you accept being drawn into his communion of love?

The Spirit’s gifts working within us give direction and definition to our witness. Directed to unity, the gifts of the Spirit bind us more closely to the whole Body of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium, 11), equipping us better to build up the Church in order to serve the world (cf. Eph 4:13). They call us to active and joyful participation in the life of the Church: in parishes and ecclesial movements, in religious education classes, in university chaplaincies and other catholic organizations. Yes, the Church must grow in unity, must be strengthened in holiness, must be rejuvenated, must be constantly renewed (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4). But according to whose standard? The Holy Spirit’s! Turn to him, dear young people, and you will find the true meaning of renewal.

Tonight, gathered under the beauty of the night sky, our hearts and minds are filled with gratitude to God for the great gift of our Trinitarian faith. We recall our parents and grandparents who walked alongside us when we, as children, were taking our first steps in our pilgrim journey of faith. Now many years later, you have gathered as young adults with the Successor of Peter. I am filled with deep joy to be with you. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit: he is the artisan of God’s works (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 741). Let his gifts shape you! Just as the Church travels the same journey with all humanity, so too you are called to exercise the Spirit’s gifts amidst the ups and downs of your daily life. Let your faith mature through your studies, work, sport, music and art. Let it be sustained by prayer and nurtured by the sacraments, and thus be a source of inspiration and help to those around you. In the end, life is not about accumulation. It is much more than success. To be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God’s love. In accepting the power of the Holy Spirit you too can transform your families, communities and nations. Set free the gifts! Let wisdom, courage, awe and reverence be the marks of greatness!

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On God's Marriage Proposal
"In Our Name, Mary Said Yes"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 19, 2008 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave before and after praying the midday Angelus, at the end of the World Youth Day closing Mass.

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Dear Young Friends,

In the beautiful prayer that we are about to recite, we reflect on Mary as a young woman, receiving the Lord's summons to dedicate her life to him in a very particular way, a way that would involve the generous gift of herself, her womanhood, her motherhood. Imagine how she must have felt. She was filled with apprehension, utterly overwhelmed at the prospect that lay before her.

The angel understood her anxiety and immediately sought to reassure her. "Do not be afraid, Mary .... The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Lk 1:30, 35). It was the Spirit who gave her the strength and courage to respond to the Lord's call. It was the Spirit who helped her to understand the great mystery that was to be accomplished through her. It was the Spirit who enfolded her with his love and enabled her to conceive the Son of God in her womb.

This scene is perhaps the pivotal moment in the history of God's relationship with his people. During the Old Testament, God revealed himself partially, gradually, as we all do in our personal relationships. It took time for the chosen people to develop their relationship with God. The Covenant with Israel was like a period of courtship, a long engagement. Then came the definitive moment, the moment of marriage, the establishment of a new and everlasting covenant. As Mary stood before the Lord, she represented the whole of humanity. In the angel's message, it was as if God made a marriage proposal to the human race. And in our name, Mary said yes.

In fairy tales, the story ends there, and all "live happily ever after". In real life it is not so simple. For Mary there were many struggles ahead, as she lived out the consequences of the "yes" that she had given to the Lord. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. When Jesus was twelve years old, she experienced every parent's worst nightmare when, for three days, the child went missing. And after his public ministry, she suffered the agony of witnessing his crucifixion and death. Throughout her trials she remained faithful to her promise, sustained by the Spirit of fortitude. And she was gloriously rewarded.

Dear young people, we too must remain faithful to the "yes" that we have given to the Lord's offer of friendship. We know that he will never abandon us. We know that he will always sustain us through the gifts of the Spirit. Mary accepted the Lord's "proposal" in our name. So let us turn to her and ask her to guide us as we struggle to remain faithful to the life-giving relationship that God has established with each one of us. She is our example and our inspiration, she intercedes for us with her Son, and with a mother's love she shields us from harm.

[After leading the Angelus, prayed in Latin, there were farewell addresses from Cardinals George Pell of Sydney and Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Then, the Holy Father greeted the youth in five languages. Finally, the Pontiff said:]

The time has come for me to say good-bye - or rather, to say arrivederci! I thank you all for your participation in World Youth Day 2008, here in Sydney, and I look forward to seeing you again in three years' time. World Youth Day 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain. Until then, let us continue to pray for one another, and let us joyfully bear witness to Christ before the world. May God bless you all.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Papal Homily at Closing Mass in Sydney
"May This 23rd World Youth Day Be Experienced as a New Upper Room"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 19, 2008 - Here is the text of the homily Benedict XVI gave at the World Youth Day closing Mass Sunday morning local time.

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Dear Friends,

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you" (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.

In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ's Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people "from every nation under heaven" (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of God's love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ! "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you". These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today's Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us - to all those who have received the Spirit's gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord's body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, "one body, one spirit in Christ".

But what is this "power" of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God's life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In today's Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God's grace.

Here in Australia, this "great south land of the Holy Spirit", all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: "charged", as the poet says, "with the grandeur of God", filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord. The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Church's sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit's power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: "Come, come to the Father" (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).

Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to God's grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive "power from on high", enabling us to be salt and light for our world.

At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: "You will be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands - witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.

Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the "power" which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make? The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God's Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today's Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all God's promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ's Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can "renew the face of the earth" (cf. Ps 104:30)!

Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith's rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished - not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.

The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning - the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity's sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.

The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4)! In today's second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say "yes" to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!

In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be "sealed" with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christ's witnesses. What does it mean to receive the "seal" of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being "baptized" in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being "given to drink" of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lord's plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being "sealed with the Spirit" means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.

As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God's presence!

Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen.

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Cardinal Rylko's Address at Closing Mass
"To Be Christian Is a Very Beautiful Thing"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 21, 2008 - Here is the text of the address Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, gave at the World Youth Day closing Mass on Sunday.

* * *

Holy Father,

The twenty-third World Youth Day is drawing to a close. Here before you are the young pilgrims who have come from every corner of the earth to take part in the event. They are a wonderful illustration of a young Church, filled with hope, with the joy of faith, and with missionary courage. They have had to overcome quite a number of difficulties and to travel long distances so that here in Sydney they could gather around the Successor of Peter to relive the mystery of Pentecost. Sydney, this great modern metropolis, has been transformed into an immense outdoor cenacle, the venue for a renewed Pentecost. The streets and squares have been swarmed with young Catholics of different nationalities and nations. In so many languages and in many different ways, they have proclaimed Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of humanity. They have given witness that to be disciples of Christ is very rewarding; to be Christian is a very beautiful thing! Throughout these few days we have been present at a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We have been aware of the breath and power of the Spirit among us. For each one of us, this has been an unforgettable time. It has been marked throughout with the great prayer: "Come Holy Spirit!"

On the day of Pentecost, the apostles emerged from the cenacle in Jerusalem, and they were different, transformed. This was the birth of the missionary Church! This was the beginning of the powerful "revolution of the Spirit" which is the only force capable of really changing the heart of the human person and, consequently, the history and face of the Earth! We are convinced that the young people of the twenty-third World Youth Day will also be different when they return home. This is how they will confirm the words of Christ: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses " (Acts 1:8). The Church in Australia is also different, this Church that so generously opened the doors for this wonderful event! Thanks to the witness of faith of its many sons and daughters - a witness that can always be depended on - the Church in Australia can look to the future with greater confidence. And Australia itself is different. This land of great beauty is now surely even more blessed with the "great hope" brought to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Holy Father, as we come to the end of this twenty-third World Youth Day, in the name of each one of us, I wish to extend our deep and filial gratitude. Thank you, because you too have undertaken a long and tiring journey in order to be here with us. Your paternal presence is great encouragement for us because it is an eloquent sign of the love of the Church for the young generations. In you, Holy Father, we see a Church that is a friend to young people: a Church that listens to them, searches them out, accompanies them and teaches them. Above all, thank you for the words you addressed to these young people. Your words touched their hearts and will serve as a compass that they can depend on as they continue on their way.

Holy Father, the culminating point of the twenty-third World Youth Day has come: the sending out on mission. In a year that is dedicated to Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, this takes on a very special significance. Recalling Paul's powerful missionary zeal - "Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!..." (1 Cor 9:16) - all of these young people wish to set out from Sydney to their respective countries and the places where they live and there to be young missionaries of Christ and the Gospel. They are very aware of what you once told us "There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Christ and to speak to others of our friendship with Him... Christ takes nothing away, and he gives you everything" (24 April 2005).

Holy Father, bless these young missionaries who have been strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and are prepared to go forth "to the ends of the earth"!

Thank you, Holy Father!

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 Cardinal Pell's Address at Closing Mass
"World Youth Days Are Now an Ordinary Part of the Life of the Church"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 21, 2008 - Here is the text of the address Cardinal George Pell of Sydney gave at the World Youth Day closing Mass on Sunday.

* * *

Most Holy Father:

In the name of all the pilgrims here present, and those many more united to us by television, radio and internet, I give profound thanks to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the graces of World Youth Day. May it bear much spiritual fruit in Australia and in the Church universal.

As Archbishop of Sydney, I have seen for three years the immense efforts that have been required to host this World Youth Day. I thank Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and the Pontifical Council for the Laity for their wise guidance. I thank my brother Australian bishops for their unflagging support in making this a truly national endeavour. All Australian Catholics are grateful for the generous support of our Commonwealth and State and local governments. A special reward in heaven must be reserved for our local World Youth Day team, led by the cheerful and formidable Bishop Anthony Fisher and Mr. Danny Casey: my heartfelt thanks to them all.

To all the pilgrims, we are grateful that you came to help us strengthen our faith. We hope in turn that you will carry home fond memories not only of our hospitality, but of our Christian witness. Australia is a vast country and it not easy to travel to Sydney, particularly from overseas. I know that many of you made great sacrifices to share these days with us. You have honoured Australia with your presence and your enthusiasm. We are humbled and grateful. We assure you that your witness here will not be forgotten. You have planted a seed here in Great South Land that will, please God, yield a hundredfold harvest.

Your Holiness, the World Youth Days were the invention of Pope John Paul the Great. The World Youth Day in Cologne was already announced before your election. You decided to continue the World Youth Days and to hold this one in Sydney. We are profoundly grateful for this decision, indicating that the World Youth Days do not belong to one pope, or even one generation, but are now an ordinary part of the life of the Church. The John Paul II generation -- young and old alike -- is proud to be faithful sons and daughters of Pope Benedict.

Thank you Holy Father!


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Benedict XVI's Farewell Address
"Youth Day Has Shown Us That the Church Can Be Filled With Hope"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 20, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Monday morning local time at the farewell ceremony for his departure from Australia after concluding Sunday the 23rd World Youth Day. The Pope left Australia for Rome at about 10:30 a.m., local time.

* * *

Dear Friends,

Before I take my leave, I wish to say to my hosts how much I have enjoyed my visit here and how grateful I am for your hospitality. I thank the Prime Minister, the Honourable Kevin Rudd, for the kindness he has shown to me and to all the participants at World Youth Day. I also thank the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, for his presence here and for graciously receiving me at Admiralty House at the start of my public engagements. The Federal Government and the State Government of New South Wales, as well as the residents and the business community of Sydney, have been most cooperative in their support of World Youth Day. An event of this kind requires an immense amount of preparation and organization, and I know that I speak on behalf of many thousands of young people when I express my appreciation and gratitude to you all. In characteristic Australian style, you have extended a warm welcome to me and to countless young pilgrims who have flocked here from every corner of the globe. To the host families in Australia and New Zealand who have made room for the young people in their homes, I am especially grateful. You have opened your doors and your hearts to the world's youth, and on their behalf I thank you.

The principal actors on the stage over these last few days, of course, have been the young people themselves. World Youth Day is their day. It is they who have made this a global ecclesial event, a great celebration of youth and a great celebration of what it is to be the Church, the people of God throughout the world, united in faith and love and empowered by the Spirit to bear witness to the risen Christ to the ends of the earth. I thank them for coming, I thank them for their participation, and I pray that they will have a safe journey home. I know that the young people, their families and their sponsors have in many cases made great sacrifices to enable them to travel to Australia. For this the entire Church is grateful.

As I look back over these stirring days, there are many scenes that stand out in my mind. I was deeply moved by my visit to the Mary MacKillop Memorial, and I thank the Sisters of Saint Joseph for the opportunity to pray at the Shrine of their Co-Foundress. The Stations of the Cross in the streets of Sydney were a powerful reminder that Christ loved us "to the end" and shared our sufferings so that we could share his glory. The meeting with the young people at Darlinghurst was a moment of joy and great hope, a sign that Christ can lift us out of the most difficult situations, restoring our dignity and enabling us to look forward to a brighter future. The meeting with ecumenical and interreligious leaders was marked by a spirit of genuine fraternity and a deep desire for greater collaboration in building a more just and peaceful world. And without doubt, the gatherings at Barangaroo and Southern Cross were high-points of my visit. Those experiences of prayer, and our joyful celebration of the Eucharist, were an eloquent testimony to the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, present and active in the hearts of our young people. World Youth Day has shown us that the Church can rejoice in the young people of today and be filled with hope for the world of tomorrow.

Dear friends, as I depart from Sydney, I ask God to look down lovingly upon this city, this country and all its inhabitants. I pray that many of their number will be inspired by Blessed Mary MacKillop's example of compassion and service. And as I bid you farewell with deep gratitude in my heart, I say once again: May God bless the people of Australia!

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Pope's Address to Youth Day Benefactors
"Your Participation Has Given You an Experience of the Spirit’’s Power"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 20, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday evening local time at a meeting with benefactors and organizers of World Youth Day. The youth event's closing Mass was held a few hours earlier.

* * *

Your Eminence,
Dear Friends,

As my visit to Australia draws to a close, I would like to express my gratitude to all those who helped make this World Youth Day a success. This evening, in a particular way, my thanks go to you, who have so generously supported this event both materially and spiritually. Cardinal Pell has alluded to the great sacrifices which you have made in organizing this wonderful day in the life of the Church. I thank you personally, not only for those sacrifices, but even more for the confidence you have shown in our young people and your trust in God's grace at work in their hearts. Let us pray that the investment which so many of you have made in them will bear fruit in their own lives, for the life of Christ's Church and for the future of our world!

In these days, through the work of the organizing committee and the cooperation of so many private individuals, businesses and corporations, and local authorities, young people from throughout the world have been given the opportunity to experience the beauty of this country and the warm hospitality of the Australian people. In return, they have enriched this land by their witness to the love of Christ and the power of his Spirit at work in the Church.

I am sure, dear friends, that your own participation in the preparations for this World Youth Day has given you a particular experience of the Holy Spirit's power. No doubt while planning this great international gathering, and trying to face every possible eventuality, you had your moments of worry and concern, and even fear and trepidation about how things would finally turn out! Now, in retrospect, you can see the abundant harvest which the Spirit has brought forth from your prayers, your perseverance and your hard work. How many good seeds have been sown in these short days!
Dear friends, Saint Paul, who devoted his entire life to the service of the Gospel, reminds us that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (cf. Acts 20:35). Your generosity and sacrifice have been an essential, yet often hidden, ingredient in the success of this World Youth Day. May the spiritual joy, the satisfaction and the fulfilment that we have all experienced in these days, be an unfailing source of blessings in your own lives. May you never doubt the truth of our Lord's promise that, whenever we give our creativity, energy, resources, and our very selves to him, we will gain them back abundantly (cf. Mt 19:29)!

With these sentiments I express once more my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to each of you. I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Help of Christians, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in Jesus her divine Son.

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Papal Address to Youth Day Volunteers
"Your Efforts Prepared the Ground for the Spirit to Come Down in Power"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 20, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Monday morning local time at a meeting with the volunteers who worked at World Youth Day. The Pope left Australia for Rome at about 10:30 a.m., local time.
* * *
Dear Friends in Christ,

I thank Cardinal Pell for his kind words and I am pleased to have this opportunity to bid farewell to all of you and to say what a wonderful experience this week has been. During these days we have been able to witness at first hand the joy that so many thousands of young people find in their faith, and we have been able to offer praise and thanksgiving to God for his goodness to us. We have had a taste of the warmth and generosity of Australian hospitality, and we have glimpsed something of the glorious scenery of this beautiful continent. It has truly been a week to remember.

None of this would have been possible, though, without a great deal of preparation and sheer hard work during the period leading up to World Youth Day. I want to thank all of you for the generous commitment of time and energy you have made, in order to ensure the smooth running of each of the events we have celebrated together. They have all required careful coordination, involving civil authorities, police and first aid agencies, as well as church personnel and a vast array of volunteers, marshals and stewards. Your efforts have prepared the ground for the Spirit to come down in power, forging bonds of unity and friendship among young people from widely differing backgrounds, and rekindling their love for Jesus Christ and his Church. In the crowds that have assembled here in Sydney we have seen a vivid expression of the unity-in-diversity of the universal Church, a vision in microcosm of the united human family that we long to see. In the power of the Spirit, may these young people make that vision a reality in the world of tomorrow.

I shall have an opportunity at the airport to thank the representatives of the civil authorities. Here I want to express my deep gratitude to all the bishops, priests, men and women religious, chaplains, teachers, lay associations, ecclesial movements, host families, schools and parish communities who have given so much to make World Youth Day a success. I thank particularly Bishop Anthony Fisher and Mr Danny Casey, who have worked so hard to coordinate all the different activities. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (20:35) - but I trust that you will nevertheless have received much from those you have served so generously in the course of our celebrations. To all of you, I say a sincere and heartfelt "thank you".

As I set off on my journey back to Rome, I shall treasure the memory of the many grace-filled events we have experienced together: from my first encounter with the young people at Barangaroo, through the meetings at Darlinghurst and Saint Mary's Cathedral, to the Youth Vigil at Southern Cross Precinct and the Final Mass there yesterday. I pray that you too will take many precious memories and spiritual insights away with you, and will return to your homes and families with fresh zeal to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the power of the Spirit, go forth now to renew the face of the earth!

As I bid you a fond farewell, I commend all of you to the loving intercession of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Help of Christians, I invoke upon you the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit, and I assure you of my continued prayers. God bless the young people of our world and God bless the people of Australia!

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Holy See on Papal Mass With Abuse Victims
"The Holy Father Wished to Demonstrate Again His Deep Concern"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 20, 2008 - Here is a statement from the Holy See released today after Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Sydney on Monday morning local time with victims of sexual abuse by clergy.
* * *
At the end of the proposed meeting with the Holy Father of a representative group of persons who have been abused by members of the clergy
As an expression of his ongoing pastoral concern for those who have been abused by members of the clergy, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today celebrated Mass with a representative group of victims. He listened to their stories and offered them consolation. Assuring them of his spiritual closeness, he promised to continue to pray for them, their families and all victims. Through this paternal gesture, the Holy Father wished to demonstrate again his deep concern for all those who have suffered sexual abuse.


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Benedict XVI's address at the farewell ceremony at Sydney Airport

Before I take my leave, I wish to say to my hosts how much I have enjoyed my visit here and how grateful I am for your hospitality. I thank the Prime Minister, the Honourable Kevin Rudd, for the kindness he has shown to me and to all the participants at World Youth Day. I also thank the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, for his presence here and for graciously receiving me at Admiralty House at the start of my public engagements. The Federal Government and the State Government of New South Wales, as well as the residents and the business community of Sydney, have been most cooperative in their support of World Youth Day. An event of this kind requires an immense amount of preparation and organization, and I know that I speak on behalf of many thousands of young people when I express my appreciation and gratitude to you all. In characteristic Australian style, you have extended a warm welcome to me and to countless young pilgrims who have flocked here from every corner of the globe. To the host families in Australia and New Zealand who have made room for the young people in their homes, I am especially grateful. You have opened your doors and your hearts to the world’s youth, and on their behalf I thank you.

The principal actors on the stage over these last few days, of course, have been the young people themselves. World Youth Day is their day. It is they who have made this a global ecclesial event, a great celebration of youth and a great celebration of what it is to be the Church, the people of God throughout the world, united in faith and love and empowered by the Spirit to bear witness to the risen Christ to the ends of the earth. I thank them for coming, I thank them for their participation, and I pray that they will have a safe journey home. I know that the young people, their families and their sponsors have in many cases made great sacrifices to enable them to travel to Australia. For this the entire Church is grateful.

As I look back over these stirring days, there are many scenes that stand out in my mind. I was deeply moved by my visit to the Mary MacKillop Memorial, and I thank the Sisters of Saint Joseph for the opportunity to pray at the Shrine of their Co-Foundress. The Stations of the Cross in the streets of Sydney were a powerful reminder that Christ loved us “to the end” and shared our sufferings so that we could share his glory. The meeting with the young people at Darlinghurst was a moment of joy and great hope, a sign that Christ can lift us out of the most difficult situations, restoring our dignity and enabling us to look forward to a brighter future. The meeting with ecumenical and interreligious leaders was marked by a spirit of genuine fraternity and a deep desire for greater collaboration in building a more just and peaceful world. And without doubt, the gatherings at Barangaroo and Southern Cross were high-points of my visit. Those experiences of prayer, and our joyful celebration of the Eucharist, were an eloquent testimony to the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, present and active in the hearts of our young people. World Youth Day has shown us that the Church can rejoice in the young people of today and be filled with hope for the world of tomorrow.

Dear friends, as I depart from Sydney, I ask God to look down lovingly upon this city, this country and all its inhabitants. I pray that many of their number will be inspired by Blessed Mary MacKillop’s example of compassion and service. And as I bid you farewell with deep gratitude in my heart, I say once again: May God bless the people of Australia!

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