Pope Benedict to vacation in Australia before World Youth Day

Sydney, Australia, May 3, 2008 / 01:07 pm (CNA) .- This July, Pope Benedict XVI will spend three extra days resting in Australia before heading to Sydney for World Youth Day 2008.

Mandy Higgins, media coordinator for the massive youth event, said in a statement that Pope Benedict’s trip to Australia will be the longest journey of his papacy.  He will spend eight days there, five of which will involve World Youth Day activities.

Pope Benedict will leave Rome on July 12 and arrive in Australia on Sunday, July 13.  He will return to the Vatican on July 21.

Bishop Anthony Fisher, Coordinator of WYD08, said he was “delighted” the Pope would spend more time in Australia. 

“We were asked to nominate a suitable location for his stay and have recommended somewhere serene, beautiful and suitable for the leader of the world’s Catholics.”

“He will have the opportunity to see some of Australia’s beautiful flora and fauna,” Bishop Fisher said.

The bishop said the location would not be disclosed.

According to Bishop Fisher, Australia will be only the third nation to have been visited by each of the three “traveling Popes,” Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI.  He said the United States and Turkey were the other two countries to have been visited by all three pontiffs.

Pope Benedict will be officially welcomed into Sydney at a harborside ceremony on Thursday, July 17.