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Pope Farewells Australia: "You have opened your doors and your hearts to the world’s youth, and on their behalf I thank you."


Sydney, Jul 20, 2008 (CNA).- Pope Benedict departed Australia for Rome today after a hectic eight-day stay, concluding his World Youth Day activities, blessing Australia before taking flight at a farewell ceremony with the Prime Minister (PM) Kevin Rudd, and other Australian civic leaders.

He entered into the airport hanger greeted with applause and surrounded by Australian and Vatican flags.

The Holy Father thanked the Australian government and its authorities for their support of the World Youth Day activities.

“The Federal Government and the State Government of New South Wales, as well as the residents and the business community of Sydney, have been most cooperative in their support of World Youth Day.”

“An event of this kind requires an immense amount of preparation and organization, and I know that I speak on behalf of many thousands of young people when I express my appreciation and gratitude to you all.”

The Pontiff also thanked the pilgrims for having come to World Youth Day and wished them a safe journey home.

“The principal actors on the stage over these last few days, of course, have been the young people themselves.”

“It is they who have made this a global ecclesial event, a great celebration of youth and a great celebration of what it is to be the Church, the people of God throughout the world, united in faith and love and empowered by the Spirit to bear witness to the risen Christ to the ends of the earth.

“I thank them for coming. I know that the young people, their families and their sponsors have in many cases made great sacrifices to enable them to travel to Australia. For this the entire Church is grateful.”

The Holy Father then received an address from Kevin Rudd, Australian PM.

“Your Holiness, it feels very much that you have already become one with us… Indeed, you have become one of us.”

The PM also announced Australia’s first ambassador to the Holy See, former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer.

“Your Holiness, I am confident that Mr Fischer, Ambassador Fischer as he will be, will discharge this position with dignity and enable Australia and the Holy See to be able to work together on the great challenges we face in the world,’ he said.

At the conclusion of the brief ceremony, the Pope climbed the stairs in his trademark red shoes to board the chartered Qantas 747, which will make a brief fuelling stop-over in Darwin before arriving in Rome.



WYD Closing Mass Homily: Young People, Build a Future of Hope for All Humanity


VATICAN CITY, 20 JUL 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father was taken by helicopter from the heliport of Victoria Barracks to Centennial Park, a public park in Sydney founded in the year 1888. From the park he travelled by popemobile to Randwick Racecourse, making a circuit of the area as he greeted and blessed the 350,000 young people from all over the world who were gathered there to attend the closing Mass of 23rd World Youth Day. During the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 24 catechumens.

Referring in his homily to the theme of this World Youth Day - "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses" - the Holy Father affirmed that "as the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God's grace".

Benedict XVI indicated that "the power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life", explaining that "this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift".

"God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church".

The Pope gave thanks to the Lord for the gift of faith, "which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation", and especially for "all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands". In this context he mentioned the names of Blessed Mary MacKillop, St. Peter Chanel and Blessed Peter To Rot.

"Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects Him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the 'power' which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you?"

"Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith's rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished - not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of His love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.

"The world", he added, "needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns in a desperate search for meaning, the ultimate meaning that only love can give?"

"The Church also needs this renewal!" the Holy Father exclaimed. "She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit!"

Pope Benedict encouraged the young people to open their hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit. "I address this plea in a special way", he said, "to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say 'yes' to Jesus, to find your joy in doing His will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!"

Referring then to the Sacrament of Confirmation which he was about to impart upon a number of young people, he asked those present to reflect upon the significance of receiving the "seal" of the Holy Spirit. "It means", he explained, "being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation". It means "not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilisation of love".


Archived News:

Mon. July 21, 2008


Youth Day '11 Will be Key for Spain, Pilgrim Hopes Event Will Combat Secularism


More Blessed to Give Than Receive, Pope Recalls, Thanks Organizers, Benefactors for Confidence in Youth


Pope Meets Victims of Sexual Abuse before Leaving Sydney


Next World Youth Day in Madrid, Pope Announces

Sun. July 20, 2008


Thanks for the Confidence Shown in Young People


Pope: Holy Spirit Is Silent Guide Toward Unity, Urges Youth to Believe in the Power of the Spirit


Pope Prays Closing Mass Will Be New Pentecost, Urges Youth to Open Hearts to Spirit's Power


Benedict XVI: God's Proposal Brought Mary's Yes, Urges Youth to Stay Faithful as She Was

Sat. July 19, 2008


Pope Apologizes to Victims of Sex Abuse by Australian Clergy


"Jesus Christ Welcomes You with Open Arms," Pope Tells Disadvantaged Youth


Repentant Sinners Are Best Christian Witnesses, Pope Tells Troubled Youths

Pope Benedict XVI: Transform Your Lives by Accepting the Holy Spirit

Youth Day Offers Community Life for Consecrated


Pilgrims Journey to Vigil Site, Sleep-Out

On a Boat With the Pope: Unforgettable


Fri. July 18, 2008


WYD: Infuse the Young with Religious Values


Pope Benedict XVI: Jesus Loves Those Who Make Mistakes


Leave the ‘Catholic ghetto’ and be an Apostle, Archbishop Chaput challenges


Benedict XVI calls on Christians to not see doctrine as divisive


Youth share lunch with the Pope at World Youth Day

Road to Ecumenism Leads to Joint Eucharistic Celebration

Thurs. July 17, 2008

Pope Arrives by Boat to World Youth Day, Tells Pilgrims: Christ Offers Everything


Australia's Bishops Hoping for Renewal

Half a million people fill Sydney to greet Pope Benedict XVI on the first day of his official WYD08 program.


Pope prays at Blessed Mary Mackillop Shrine

Thousands of Canadians pray and venerate relics of Pier Giorgio Frassati

Wed. July 16, 2008


Church Hopes Joy of Pilgrims Will Win over ‘Cranky’ WYD Protesters


Pope Receives Unsual Delegation: A Koala, Kangaroo and Python


Archbishop Chaput Urges Sydney Youth to Shun ‘Part-time Christianity’


Tues. July 15, 2008


Cardinal Pell celebrates World Youth Day Opening Mass with over 140,000 people


Pope welcomes World Youth Day pilgrims in video message


Holy Father Sends First Text Message WYD Participants