Newsflash Archives > Pope Arrives in Sydney
POPE ARRIVES IN SYDNEY
by Andrew Rabel
Pope Benedict touched down according to schedule on Shepherd One (the papal Alitalia jet) in slightly overcast conditions at 3 pm on the afternoon of Sunday, 13 July at the Royal Australian Air force Base (RAAF) in Richmond New South Wales to be greeted by Australian Prime Minster Kevin Rudd, NSW Premier Morris Iemma and other government officials.
After the Pope walked down the stairs from the plane in his very visible red shoes, he was also greeted by a wealth of local ecclesiastical personages including Cardinal George Pell Archbishop of Sydney, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, (director of WYD08) and Bishop Max Davis of the Military Ordinariate of Australia. Shortly after, the Holy Father was on his way to his holiday retreat at the Opus Dei Kenthurst Study Centre, (on the outskirts of Sydney) where he will relax for three days before participating in the massive World Youth Day celebrations, which already have attracted thousands of young visitors from all around the world to Sydney, Australia’s largest city.
Shepherd One amused spectators with the Vatican and Australian flags flapping in the breeze, on the nose of the aircraft as it touched down.
For his first visit to Australia, this was the longest journey of his life, the AZ4000 taking 19 hours to travel the 16, 418 km from Rome to Sydney. There was a brief refuelling stop in Darwin, in the Northern Territory, but contrary to some expectations, the Pope did not meet anyone there. Now Australia along with the United States and Turkey, are the only countries to be visited by all the pilgrim popes.
The Holy Father was accompanied by 72 passengers on the flight, including 27 members of the papal entourage and 43 accredited Vatican journalists, including the innovative Editor of L’Osservatore Romano, Professor Giovanni Maria Vian.
Church officials on board included Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office, and Msgr Guido Marini, Master of Liturgical Ceremonies of the Holy Father. Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity was already here in Australia, ahead of the Holy Father, and was included among the greeters.
There were no official speeches at the welcoming, other than some brief conversation between Pope Benedict, and government and Church officials before being driven to Kenthurst.
The positive welcome comes on the news that like during Pope Benedict’s recent visit to the US, a formal apology will be given to victims of clerical sexual abuse. This was apparently at the urging of Cardinal Pell, who intuitively recognized that like papal visits in other parts of the world, they are used as vehicles of protest by disgruntled individuals, both inside and outside the Church.
On the papal flight, Pope Benedict mentioned to journalists how World Youth Day was the perfect occasion for the Holy Spirit to come down upon the faithful, and also spoke of the widespread journey through the breadth and width of Australia, of the WYD cross, and icon of the Virgin Mary, saying how this has had played a part in revitalizing the faith of the young people of the nation, ahead of WYD events in Sydney.
World Youth Day runs from July 15 to 20, and at the final Mass on Sunday is expected to attract a crowed of 500,000 persons from over 100 countries. It will be the biggest international event in the history of Australia.
Andrew Rabel, an Australian journalist, is covering the Pope's trip to Australia. We will be publishing his reports regularly in coming days.
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