Cologne, Germany, Jul 13, 2008 (CNA) - Six-thousand young Germans will participate in WYD, according to Sabine Wißdorf, head of the delegation of the German Bishops Conference in Sydney. The large number of German travelers, he continued, “is also evidence of the fact the 2005 World Youth Day of Cologne left its mark.”
Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, leader of the Pastoral Youth Commission of the German Bishops Conference, commented on the fact that the group is composed largely of people aged 25-35. This is a group, he explained, “that the Church usually finds it hard to reach out to.”
He also noted the benefit the journey would have for the German youth. The journey to Sydney will be “a challenge to discuss the contents of Christian faith with young people from different countries and cultures,” the prelate said as the group prepared to leave for Australia.
Traveling with the bishops will also be Archbishop of Munich Reinhard Marx, and Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner.
Brussels, Belgium, Jul 13, 2008 (CNA) - During their pilgrimage to Sydney, a group of Belgians planted trees as part of their commitment to the preservation of the environment. Meanwhile the Belgian youth who were unable to attend the international gathering will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the apparitions in Banneux, Belgium.
Before leaving for Australia on July 3, Cardinal Godfried Daneels celebrated Mass for the group in Brussels.
Since their arrival in Australia, the has group met and prayed with young Australians, and later planted trees to show their dedication to protecting the environment.
For the young Belgians who cannot attend WYD, the Belgian church will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin in Banneux.
The Virgin of the Poor first appeared to Mariette Becco on January 15, 1933 and the apparitions lasted until March 2 of the same year.
At her second apparition, the Blessed Mother led Mariette from her house to a spring, which she told the girl would bring healing to all nations.
Many people, including Mariette's father, were converted to Catholicism upon hearing accounts of the apparition. Five hundred thousand pilgrims visit the site of the apparitions every year and over fifty miraculous cures have been documented at the spring.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 13, 2008 (CNA) - As Pope Benedict XVI landed in Sydney on Sunday, the youth who are eagerly awaiting World Youth Day, received a message from the Pope. In his remarks to the young pilgrims, the Holy Father prayed that they will be filled with joy, find rest in the Lord and fervent about sharing the Gospel with all.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI landed in Sydney at 3p.m. local time on Sunday, joining over 100,000 international pilgrims participating in the World Youth Day 2008 celebrations held in Australia.
The Papal flight was the longest of the Pope’s life, with the Alitalia flight AZ4000 from Rome travelling for 19 hours and 45 minutes over 10,200 miles (16, 400 kilometers), with only a brief stopover in Darwin for the aircraft to refuel and pick up Darwin’s Bishop Eugene Hurley.
Pope Benedict was greeted at the Royal Australian Air Force base on Sydney’s northwest side, by the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, alongside several other political leaders and bishops of the Australian Catholic Church.
The Pope was accompanied in flight by 72 passengers: a 27 member papal entourage, 43 Vatican accredited media, and 2 personal assistants.
He rested briefly at the airport with the dignitaries before being escorted by a heavily guarded 13 car caravan to nearby Kenthurst Study Centre run by the Prelature of Opus Dei, where he will spend time in private reflection until Wednesday evening.
Locals picnicked along the adjoining streets of the airbase to catch a glimpse of the Pope’s touchdown in Shepherd One and a crowd of about 300 local and international pilgrims later lined the Kenthurst Centre cheering the Papal motorcade as they tried to catch a glimpse of the Pope behind heavily tinted windows.
Overseas pilgrims and Australian Catholics who are descending on Sydney also received a message from the Holy Father as they prepare to begin World Youth Day this next week.
In his message, the Pope called Australia, “the great southern land of the Holy Spirit,” and offered a prayer “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.”
Before leaving Rome, Pope Benedict also promised that he will try to bring further healing victims of clerical sexual abuse by making an apology to them during the trip.
The Pope’s official duties will commence early Thursday afternoon where he will cross Rose Bay Quay to greet a crowd of thousands of pilgrims at Bangaroo East Darling Harbour aboard a vessel called the “Sydney 2000,” amidst a 12 boat party dubbed the papal “boat-a-cade.”
Next Sunday, the Pope will preside over the closing Mass which World Youth Day organisers are expecting approximately 500, 000 to attend.