Pope Arrives at World Youth Day

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by 500,000 youth who lined the shores of Sydney Harbor as the Papal “Boat-a-cade” officially brought him to World Youth Day 2008 (WYD08).

Ruth, a fifteen year old girl from Cairns in Queensland Australia rode the Papal boat-a-cade as a local pilgrim. “Everyone was cheering,” she said of the Pope’s arrival. “There were helicopters everywhere, and you could just feel the excitement.”

“His Holiness stood waving in full-view of the crowd on board the vessel,” said WYD08 spokesman Father Mark Podesta to the Catholic News Agency. The Papal Boat carried approximately 530 people including 168 international pilgrims.

After disembarking in Barangaroo, the Pope, who had been resting for three days after arriving in Australia on Sunday afternoon,addressed the joyful crowd.

“Standing before me I see a vibrant image of the Universal Church,” he said. “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… To you I wish to offer encouragement: step forward into Christ’s loving embrace; recognize the Church as your home.”

He also warned young people to be aware that “something is amiss” in the social environment of the world. 

“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.” He cited alcohol, drug abuse, violence and sexual degradation passed off by the media as “entertainment” as examples.

The lure of relativism and secularism was also addressed by the Pope.
“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.”
He went on to say, “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.

“Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything. Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life” he said and emphatically called upon the pilgrims to not leave God on the sidelines.

“ . . .(I)n 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 by more consequences than by principles grounded in truth.” 

The Papal message concluded by reminding all that “the concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment… cannot however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.”
After blessing the pilgrims, he boarded the Pope-mobile and traveled through city streets lined with more cheering crowds. He was taken to St Mary’s Cathedral house where he will stay with Cardinal George Pell for the rest of the World Youth Day celebrations.


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