Young Africans are often held back by their limited budget when they have to attend the World Youth Days. Only four young people from Burkina Faso managed to go to Sydney this year, reads an article published on the Thursday 17th July issue of Burkina Fasos daily paper Le Pays. Unfortunately - continues the piece -, the African continent, where faith is very strong, has had no chance so far to organise any such religious event. In 2006, in the run-up to the 2008 WYD, the Cross and the icon of the Virgin were taken through Africa, from Senegal to Tanzania, starting nationwide events and meetings that were also attended by young people from the neighbouring countries. Veritable breeding grounds of peace and a school of friendship and love. This is how the bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare, Rwanda, had called them. Some young Africans have now the chance to take part in a bigger, more international breeding ground in Sydney, where, in addition to the spiritual experience, human relations, cooperation twinning programs and projects are born, where people discover each other, as mentioned by Le Pays. As well as being an experience of faith - concludes Burkina Fasos daily paper -, the WYDs are also an effective ‘tool for bringing different cultures together, for social inclusion, for a more open human spirit.
Peru and Brazil: the WYD has no boundaries and those who cannot personally attend the event find other ways to follow the event. Young Peruvians, for instance, received a message from Sydney, from the president of the Youth Bishops Commission in Peru, mgr. Gabino Miranda. Join us - writes the bishop - in prayer and in joy. The bishop speaks of a young Church gathered around the Pope, longing to be disciple and missionary and to receive the strength of the Holy Spirit to be a witness amidst the world in which we live, study, work, in everyday life. The archdiocese of Belo Horizonte in Brazil planned three days of events. On Saturday 19th from the afternoon to the evening they will share moments of music, culture and catechesis, then they will watch the live broadcast from Sydney, then the metropolitan archbishop of Belo Horizonte, mgr. Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, will open the vigil of prayer that will be held all night in the Cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem. On Sunday morning at 6, the young will take part in the Way of the Cross, from the cathedral to Praça do Papa, where Mass will be celebrated.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - Christianity is announced not only by words but also by the behaviour of those who profess to be believers. This is the core of the three catecheses that mgr. Anders Arborelius, bishop of Stockholm, gave to the young of his country in Sydney. The personal testimony cannot be left aside - states the bishop -. Often people who have approached Christianity tell me everything begun when they met believable Christians. And I think in our country the value of the testimony is even stronger. Speaking to SIR during the catecheses, mgr. Arborelius tells of the lights and shadows of Sweden. On one side, he tells, there are young people with no faith or strength and marriage is very weak; however, on the other side, there a very high birth rate, one of the highest in Europe, partly the result of some social policies that protect women and motherhood.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - I cannot ignore there are still big, substantial differences between us, but let this not be the first nor the last word we speak. The regard of the Anglicans to this mornings inter-faith meeting was taken by the Anglican auxiliary bishop of Sydney, rev. Robert Forsyth, who greeted the Holy Father as a brother in Christian faith. The Anglican leader spoke of the Roman Church as a rock amidst the rapids: Were it not for Romes deep insistence on Christ as the sole saviour of the world, on the nature of Gods Trinity, on Christs divine nature, on the centrality and supremacy of the Scriptures and on the objectivity of Christian morality, the life of the other Christian Churches would be much more difficult. Then, with reference to the Popes wish that the Pauline Year may help make progress towards the unity of Christians, rev. Forsyth pledged to pray to grow together in truth and love. Even if the Anglican pastor fears that the full unity of Christians will not be accomplished until the day on which we will know everything, even what we have completely ignored, when we will no longer see as in a mirror, but face to face.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - Over 270 million people, according to the organisers, were present at the traditional Way of the Cross of the WYD, which has just ended in Sydney, in Barangaroo Bay, where yesterday the young welcomed Pope Benedict XVI. The event was watched worldwide live on TV - according to the figures announced in the newsroom of the WYD - by 500 million people. An event poised between the past and present, in which costume dresses flanked the aboriginal actors, and songs and dances alternated along the way from the Cathedral of St Mary to Barangaroo. After the Holy Fathers prayer in the Cathedral, the 13 Stations of the Way of the Cross started from the Last Supper, acted on a stage set in Jesus time. It was an aboriginal who played the Cyrenaic, taking the Cross on his shoulders on Darling Harbour Bridge. At the ninth Station, in which Jesus is stripped, a boy and a girl sang Amazing Grace, a north-American song that was very commonly sung at the time of apartheid. At sunset, against the charming background of the lit skyscrapers, the Crucifixion. While the Apostles took Jesus body away, at the last Station, the event closed along the notes of an Irish religious song, under the Cross.
The 650 bishops who have come to Canterbury for the 14th Lambeth Conference went into spiritual retreat yesterday until Sunday morning. For the next few days, the bishop will follow a schedule, which will be opened by a speech by the archbishop of Canterbury, after which there will be moments of silence, prayer and reflection. Being into retreat - reads a note - means leaving all the problems of daily life behind and focus on spiritual life. The Lambeth Conference had been opened on Wednesday 16th July by archbishop Williamss opening address. I think - said the archbishop - that it is important to say we are very sorry that many of our brothers and sisters in Communion have not felt able to be with us over these weeks, we are sorry because we need their voices and they need ours. I respect and accept the decisions that have been taken, but together and in prayer we must acknowledge the wound that they have opened in our relationship. Then, Williams reasserted his personal commitment, so that the relations that have been hurt will be healed. Aware that this process is not so easy, he added: we hope the opened wounds may somehow open up to receive the work of Gods Spirit in our tasks.
Basing his remarks on the example of the prodigal son who squandered his inheritance on a life of indulgence, and ended up in abject poverty and misery, Benedict XVI developed a catechesis on youth deviance and how to overcome it. Many of you - he said, addressing his remarks to the guests of the Rehab Community of the University of Notre Dame - have had personal experience of what that young man went through. Perhaps you have made choices that you now regret (...). The choice to abuse drugs or alcohol, to engage in criminal activity or self-harm, may have seemed at the time to offer a way out of a difficult or confusing situation. The Pope then continued: You now know that, instead of bringing life, it brings death. I wish to acknowledge your courage in choosing to turn back onto the path of life, just like the young man in the parable. You have accepted help: from friends or family, from the staff who run the ‘Alive programme: from people who care deeply for your well-being and happiness. He then exhorted the young guests of the Community to become ambassadors of hope to others in similar situations, sure of the love of Jesus who welcomes you with open arms.
I pray that you will all benefit from the assistance offered by the Archdiocese of Sydneys Social Services Agency, and that the good work being done here will continue long into the future, said the Pope at the start of his speech at his meeting with a group of youth undergoing treatment at the Rehabilitation Community run by the University of Notre Dame in Sydney. After recalling the words of Moses (I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse...), Benedict XVI declared that sometimes people worship ‘other gods without realizing it. False ‘gods, whatever name, shape or form we give them, are nearly always associated with the worship of three things: material possessions, possessive love, or power. To resist these three temptations, which he called the path that leads towards death, the Pope proposed instead the way to choose life, which consists in the worship of the one true God. A vivid illustration of what it means to turn back from the path of death onto the path of life - explained Benedict XVI - is found in a Gospel story that I am sure you all know well: the parable of the prodigal son. (to be continued)
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - One of the 12 boys and girls who lunched with Pope Benedict XVI today was Craig Ashby, an Australian boy of aboriginal origin, who gave the Pontiff a kangaroo-skin cape. Speaking of my people - tells Ashby -, which are still suffering from all the problems of discrimination and social exclusion that we have experienced, the Pope told me that the key to solve them is education. Craig adds that Benedict XVI is a great leader and hopes he will take the aboriginals question to heart. Another one of the boys and girls lunching with the Pope was Gabriel Nangile, from Papua New Guinea: With the Pope we spoke of the young people of my country and the importance that our hearts move towards the Spirit. The boy says that for him this one is an indescribable experience: never in my life would I have imagined that I would eat with the «leader» of the Catholic Church.
No boy or girl from Kuna Yala could go to the WYD, but since May they have been offering up prayers for this big event of the Church, personally working at and sharing a catechesis about the Holy Fathers message. It was said to SIR by father Carlos Rodriguez, who works with the young of the Panamanian diocese. On 26th July - adds the priest -, the young of the youth groups of the 5 parishes of the diocese, some students and all the young who want to join in will take part in a Day on which the Popes word will be discussed. The bishop of the diocese, Audilio Aguilar Aguilar - says father Rogriguez -, will celebrate Mass at the end of the Day. The diocese expects a turnout of about 600 young people. They have great expectations about this Day, especially because they are young people who live in the rural areas, and they do not have many opportunities to take part and be together in such events. So they are very glad to accept the invitation of the diocese.
(From our correspondents in Sidney) - I have been amazed at how normal the Pope is, how affable he is. These are the words of Fidel Mateos Rodriguez, one of the twelve lucky boys and girls who could lunch with the Pope in Sydney today, a meal of sweet potato soup, chicken with peas and lemon cake. As he saw me, the Pontiff smiled to me and said ‘Spain, Spain, and I answered that my country is waiting for him with open arms when he wants to come. The boy gave the Pope a rosary, the book of the project of the youth pastoral in Spain and a picture of Santiago di Compostela, because - he adds - the road of Santiago is the symbol of the Christian Europe. The old continent was also represented, at lunch with the Pope, by the French Marie-Bénédicte Esnault. The Pontiff - she tells - told us that in future he doesnt think hes going to change the formula of the World Youth Days, hell give them continuity, even if there is a normal evolution over the years. During lunch - adds Marie - we did not speak of France or Europe, but as I listened to what the other boys and girls were saying I thought that we, who live in countries of ancient Christian tradition, are very lucky and we must pray for those countries that have so many problems. (continued)
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - That he may keep enlightening mankind in the love of man, of ones brothers and sisters. This is the welcome that the rabbi of the big synagogue of Sydney, Jeremy Lawrence, made to Benedict XVI at the meeting with the leaders of the other religions. Meetings like this one highlight what we have in common rather than our differences, stated the rabbi who listed the common positions on such issues as the defence of the environment, of life, of rights, of justice, against oppression and persecution. The WYD embodies his commitment to continuing this dialogue - added Lawrence - and for the good of mankind we must make foreigners become our neighbours and make our neighbours become our friends, turning the stereotypes of Christians, Jews and Muslims into human beings, friends and collaborators in the building of a shared global village. The meeting with the Pope was also attended by Lacey Josie, member of the Jewish delegation that told to SIR: What amazed me is the fact he wanted to meet us and speak to us, one by one. I also spoke to him in German, as I originally come from Germany, and he smiled in surprise. I am sure he was glad for this meeting and his gratitude was apparent. We liked his speech, full of good omens for the future of dialogue.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - Greater openness on the part of Muslims and less prejudice on the part of Christians, but Islamic-Christian dialogue is nonetheless a reality: that is the essential message of the speech that Mohamadu Saleem, executive member of the National Council of Imams in Australia, addressed to Benedict XVI during the interfaith meeting held in Sydney earlier today with some exponents of the other religions. If Muslims and Christians together with members of the other communities were to build bridges instead of walls, humanity as a whole would rejoice forever, said the imam, who cited the example of Australia itself where Christians and Muslims, especially the young, are working together with those of other faiths for justice and peace in many parts of the world, sharing the same views on such issues as the fight against Aids, the defence of the environment, and humanitarian aid for the victims of disasters. Clearly a lot still remains to be done - concluded Saleem - to reinforce the link between our two religions.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - The ecumenical meeting was followed by an interreligious one, with the participation of some forty representatives of fifteen different religious confessions, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians and Sabeans (a confession present in Iraq and hence also practised by the communities of Iraqi immigrants). The Vatican spokesman expressed Benedict XVIs appreciation for the words spoken at the meeting by the Jewish exponent and by the representative of Islam, who proposed the fundamentalism of love as an antidote to the fundamentalism of hate. Very positive too, said Fr. Lombardi, were the frequent references to WYD, which help us to experience this event in a unified way. The Pope, lastly, expressed on several occasions his satisfaction and enthusiasm about the meeting. The programme of his visit is now continuing with lunch together with a representative group of young people from the USA, New Zealand, Spain, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, France, Korea and Australia.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - Some fifteen different confessions and religious communities, both Oriental and Reformed, participated this morning in the ecumenical meeting with the Holy Father, held in the crypt of St. Marys Cathedral in Sydney. News of the meeting is reported by the spokesman of the Vatican Press Room, Fr. Federico Lombardi. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney was absent from the meeting, though he sent his suffragan to represent him and, as Father Lombardi underlined, a very fine letter, very warm in its tribute to the Pope and to World Youth Day. Ecumenism has a common basis, on which we are intervening, but also a goal, full communion, which we realize is not easy to achieve, observed the Vatican spokesman commenting on the statement in the Popes message that the ecumenical movement has reached a critical point, sign of the honesty and clarity with which the Pope sees the situation and expresses himself on it. (to be continued)
These values - added the Pope - are especially important for a proper education of the young who are so often tempted to consider life a commodity, but are also willing to welcome lofty ideals, such as asceticism, the practice of moral virtue, self-respect and the care for the others. In ending his speech, Benedict XVI mentioned the responsibility religions have for building a world of peace and for the reconciliation of the peoples: Religion - said the Holy Father - offers peace but - even more importantly - arouses in mans spirit a thirst for the truth and a hunger for virtue. May we encourage everyone, especially the young, to admire in astonishment the beauty of life, to look for its ultimate sense, and to commit themselves to accomplishing its sublime potential!.
Dear friends, I have come to Australia as an ambassador of peace. Thats why I am glad to meet you who share this ambition as well as the wish to help the world achieve peace. With these words, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the leaders of the religions that he met in the chapterhouse of St. Marys, in Sidney. The Pope was welcomed by the words of rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, and Sheik Shardy, on behalf of the Jewish community and the Muslim community of the city, respectively. In a world thats threatened by sinister, indiscriminate forms of violence - said the Pope -, the united voice of those who have a religious spirit stimulates the nations and the communities to solve conflicts with peaceful systems that perfectly respect human dignity. The sense of religion that is rooted in mans heart - pointed out Benedict XVI - guides men to meet other peoples needs and find effective ways to contribute to the common good. Religious spirit educates man to sacrifice and self-discipline, to a simple, unpretentious life. (continued)
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - We need to need to move all together in the same direction along the road of dialogue in pursuit of unity, said Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, apostolic nuncio in Egypt, at the meeting on inter-religious dialogue (Australians face to face with faiths) which was held in Sydney yesterday evening, a kind of preview of todays meeting between Benedict XVI and the representatives of the other religions. To begin a new road we need to contemplate the Spirit and have the capacity to appreciate him, said Fitzgerald. According to David Knoll, delegate of the Jewish Council, anti-semitism and prejudice need to be rejected to be able to work together, faith with faith, and to distinguish tolerance from respect. Each life and each culture is universal - Fitzgerald recalled -; we have celebrated the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate; were still working side by side and we must never forget we are children of the same God. The representative of the Australian Federation of Islam Council underlined, for his part, the importance of identity: it should not be thought that Islam is a homogeneous community; often the problem has been the way in which Muslims behave. The message of peace and dialogue is universal; we need however to understand we are embarking on a common process. The problem is not communication, but putting into practice the message of peace and respect for mankind.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - In his catechesis for German youth yesterday, the auxiliary bishop of Mainz, the Most Rev. Ulrich Neymeyr, emphasized the real significance of the holiness of the Church. The Church is not holy as a perfect human organization, but because she was founded by God, he explained. The history of the Church teaches that individuals animated by the spirit of the Gospel have not always acted in her, but that the Church has always renewed herself by virtue of the Spirit of the Gospel and has thus remained faithful to her mission right down to the third millennium and undoubtedly will continue to do so. Neymeyr recalled that to fulfil her own mission, the Church also has a need of the virtues of each person who realizes the gospel of Jesus Christ in life and in works. Giving, the smallest charism that is used for the life of the Church, is also inspired by the same Holy Spirit who turns the Church as a whole into a sacrament, a sign of the presence of God in the world.
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - Wisdom is not the prerogative of Christians alone, but of all believers, whose faith contributes to the knowledge of God and of ourselves. Welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the interreligious meeting that is taking place in the Chapter Hall of St. Marys Cathedral, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, cited the tenth anniversary of John Paul IIs encyclical "Fides et ratio" and his teachings on faith and reason: the Pope reminded us that not only do faith and reason both conduce to the truth, but that reason needs faith to widen its own horizons and to offer a complete account of the human experience. Recurring to the question of wisdom, the cardinal said that only a few people today, and perhaps most strongly in the English-speaking countries, reject it, interpreting faith as the cradle of fundamentalism, fanaticism, violence, as a threat to genuine freedom, as an incitement to violence and as an obstacle to science. Such voices ought to be silenced by the excellent relations existing between the different religions here in Australia". But, continued Cardinal Pell, its not only a question of good manners or friendly meetings. Today, as believers, we must demonstrate that genuine faith in God is at the basis of union and harmony, and not of division and hatred.
For this reason, a sincere dialogue about the place of the Eucharist - went on Pope Benedict XVI - will undoubtedly help make the ecumenical movement move forward and unite our testimony in front of the world. Then the Pope highlighted the style that such dialogue should have. Ecumenical dialogue - he said - moves on not only through an exchange of ideas, but by sharing gifts that mutually enrich us. An idea aims at attaining the truth; a ‘gift expresses love. Both are essential for dialogue. Opening up and accepting spiritual gifts from other Christians stimulates our ability to perceive the light of the truth that comes from the Spirit.
The ecumenical movement has reached a critical point. But that does not mean Christians should lose heart: we have to steer clear of any temptation to consider the doctrine a source of division and as such an impediment to what seems to be the most urgent and immediate task to improve the world in which we live. It was said by Pope Benedict XVI, as he meet, in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. Mary in Sydney, the leaders of the Christian Churches and Confessions and the members of the Ecumenical Council of New South Wales. The meeting - which was attended by about 40 people - was also attended by card. Edward Cassidy, Emeritus President of the Papal Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, who took - recalled the holy Father - a proactive commitment to promoting the mutual understanding of all Christians. The path of ecumenism - said the Pope - ultimately aims to a common celebration of the Eucharist, which Christ entrusted to His apostles as the epitome of all Sacraments of the unity of the Church. Even if there are still some obstacles to overcome, we can be sure one day one common Eucharist will but highlight our decision to love and serve each other in resemblance of our Lord. (continued)
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - Attending WYD with a group of European members of Franciscan Youth, Matka Roganov, from Slovenia, told SIR she had the impression that the Christianity practised in our continent is far more rooted in tradition than that here in Australia: it is transmitted to us by our families and by our parents, but by now it seems to me to be little practised in our lives. Matka says she came to Sydney for many reasons, including that of bringing our joy, our enthusiasm, and transmitting it to the Australians. Its the first experience of WYD for the girl and she cant wait to return home to tell everyone how wonderful it is to meet so many youngsters from all over the world and to recognize each other as Christians. The Slovene girl admits that in our countries its not always easy to live and bear witness to our faith; at times people dont understand you, but its not shameful to be Christians, we ought not to be afraid of demonstrating it
(From our correspondents in Sydney) - The Pope waving to the crowds on his motorcade through the streets of Sydney: that is the image splashed across the front pages of the major Australian dailies in the newsstands today. It shines with a light of its own is the headline on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, which opens in remembrance of this Super Thursday. The paper includes an important insert dedicated to WYD. It begins with the headline: The Pope warns of the fascination of false idols and continues by tracing the various stages of the day and citing sizeable excerpts of the Popes speech. A grey day brightens up with the first appearance of the Pope in Sydney, says The Australian, the main Australian daily, which speaks of a miracle and carries on its front page a photo of the Pope smiling on the boat that took him to Barangaroo together with youth. According to the paper, the event was incredible for the high participation and the spring-like weather. A holy sea, comments the Daily Telegraph, which underlines the hundreds of thousands of faithful who greeted the pontiff yesterday. A special edition of the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire was printed and distributed in Sydney; it shows on its front page a photo of Benedict XVI greeting Australian youth. Inviolable dignity of human life is the headline carried by the Catholic daily, observing that the city was invaded by half a million people for the first meeting with the Pope.
Three thousand Colombian youth will follow WYD in Sydney in tandem in Bogota Cathedral: leading them, in six hours of prayer, catechesis and adoration, will be the apostolic nuncio in Colombia, Mgr. Aldo Cavalli, and the auxiliary bishop of Bogotá, Mgr. Roberto Ospina. We will unite ourselves spiritually with the Pope - says Father Astolfo Moreno, parish priest of Bogota cathedral - to experience the most significant moments of WYD. Well begin the day by venerating the Virgin of the Mercede, after which the auxiliary bishop will give a catechesis on the message of the Holy Father. As in Sydney there will also be a Way of the Cross and then we will watch a video to recall the meetings of John Paul II with youth at previous World Youth Days. Well sing the WYD anthem in Spanish before the Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Mass. During the day 50 priests will be at the disposal of youth for the sacrament of reconciliation. Father Moreno says this initiative is providential: it is the result of the working of the Spirit. Every day the youth of Bogota are seeking ever more actively for an encounter with God, concluded Fr. Moreno in a conversation with SIR.
This year, the distance and the high costs did not permit us to send representatives of our youth to World Youth Day, which is now being celebrated at Sydney in Australia, declared Mgr. Benone Farcas, vicar general of the diocese of Chisinau in Moldova, in a briefing to SIR. The Catholic Church of the Republic of Moldova has, however, organized a national meeting for Moldavian youth at Rascov (130 km northeast of Chisinau) to unite ourselves with the youth from all over the world gathered in Sydney. The meeting began on 17 July and will end on Sunday 20 July, at the same time as that in Sydney. The days at Rascov are being experienced - continued Mgr. Farcas - in the light of the same theme that animates Catholic youth from all over the world. The organizers are expecting some 150 youngsters at Rascov, representatives of all the parishes of the diocese of the capital, Chisinau, who will be accompanied by priests, religious and pastoral animators. The programme of the meeting includes personal prayer, group celebrations, catechesis on the theme of WYD 2008 and moments of festivity.