17-July-2008 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Australia's Bishops Hoping for Renewal

By Catherine Smibert

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Sydney is hopeful that Benedict XVI's visit to the country for World Youth Day will spark a renewal in the Church there.

Speaking today at the Pope's welcoming ceremony with pilgrims at Barangaroo in Sydney, Cardinal George Pell assured the Pontiff that many Australians are enthusiastic about his visit, and not just Catholics, "but friends from the length and breadth of our continent and especially from the other Christian communities."

In the midst of the joyful tone of the event, the cardinal reminded the young pilgrims of the reality of the Church in Australia, indicating the need to convert some Catholics: "Australian Catholics have generally been strong supporters of the Pope -- unfortunately, not always -- but generally they have been, and we rejoice in this.

Cardinal Pell likened Benedict XVI's arrival to when Archbishop Patrick Francis Moran, the first archbishop of Sydney, arrived to the city in 1884.

The cardinal recounted that steamers carrying thousands of Catholics, decked with banners and flowers, left Circular Quay to accompany Archbishop Moran's ship, the Liguria, arriving from Europe.

Cardinal Pell noted that Archbishop Moran in his first homily explained that in Australia he had found "the same piety, the same love for religion, the same generosity and spirit of sacrifice" that marked "the old Church at home" in Europe.

"Holy Father," said Cardinal Pell, "we hope you can arrive at the same conclusion during your time with us."

Significant event

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, president of the Australian episcopal conference, said at the welcoming ceremony in Barangaroo that he was optimistic that the Benedict XVI's visit will bring lasting blessings on the youth and church in Australia and the world, reminding them that this was the case after the visits from the last two Pontiff's.

"Against this magnificent backdrop of Sydney Harbor we thank you for coming such a long distance to Australia to lead us in the wonderful celebrations of World Youth Day," he said. "It is a most significant occasion for us."

He recounted that this is the fourth papal visit in the history of the nation: "The two visits of your beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and the 1970 visit of Pope Paul VI, remain etched in our hearts and minds and we consider it a true blessing that we are now able to welcome you to the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit, as this continent was first named, the land under the Southern Cross."

"We renew our faith and commitment to Christ and the Church," Archbishop Wilson continued. "Looking out at this wonderful sight, of the youth of the world, drawn together in faith and love, we are filled with hope -- the true Christian hope that you have spoken about so beautifully in your encyclical 'Spe Salvi.'

"Your presence with us over these coming days, reinforces our hope as we all seek personally to encounter Jesus Christ in ever deeper and truer ways."

"We are a young nation," the archbishop added, "inhabiting a land where the ancient culture of our aboriginal people has given a spiritual dimension to all the features we see. Your arrival here today marks a special day in the history of this nation and we pray that the events of the coming days will bring forth abundant blessings upon us all, especially our young people gathered here and upon all the youth of the world, and on all the Church, and upon our cherished Australian nation."

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