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  • » 07/15/2008, 00.00


    The new Pentecost of young people in Sydney

    At least 150,000 young people have taken part in the opening Mass presided over by Cardinal Pell. They come from 160 nations, and are united in friendship with the task of transforming the world through faith in Christ. Tensions feared with radical and atheist groups. The greeting of prime minister Kevin Rudd.

    Sydney (AsiaNews) - "A new Pentecost": this is how Cardinal Rylko, the president of the pontifical council for the laity and in charge of organising WYD, has described the gathering of 150,000 young people for the opening Mass for World Youth Day in Sydney. At four o'clock in the afternoon (local time), the young people began streaming in to the area of Baragaroo, on the bay of Sydney. The "new Pentecost" means a mixing of languages and cultures in friendship, leaving security personnel amazed - and without much to do. At the Mass presided over by Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, there were aboriginal dances, Maori songs from New Zealand, readings in Italian, English, French and Spanish, primitive and modern musical instruments. The young people are not afraid of being identified with their place of origin: they wore Peruvian hats, Japanese bandannas, American baseball caps, straw hats; Korean traditional dress, shirts from the Philippines, simple jeans, or Indonesian batik fabric. And then there were the flags of all the 160 nations present for this WYD, waving to the rhythm of the songs of the Mass.

    But the "new Pentecost" also means - as implied by the title of this WYD 2008 - receiving power from the Holy Spirit, to be witnesses to the Christian faith in today's world.

    In his homily, Cardinal Paul prayed that the Spirit might transform the young people present into "an army of saints" to renew the world, and asked them to "have courage", to "go far", toward radical decisions, even embracing vocations of total dedication, and encountering those who do not believe as well.

    Before this, at the initial greeting, the cardinal said: "I want to welcome not only you, but all those who feel lost, weary . . . The call of Christ is addressed to all, including those who do not believe . . . those who do not have any religion". This invitation may have been addressed to the Australians themselves, marked by secularism and indifference. Out of 20 million inhabitants, only 5 million are Catholic (about 26%), and 17% have no religion or are declared atheists, often with radical tendencies.

    In the days before WYD, there were numerous little demonstrations of people wearing T-shirts reading "God does not exist". There is also a controversy over the special police rules against offending the participants and events of WYD, struck down by a federal court decision yesterday. It is possible that this will prompt the "No Pope" groups to organise demonstrations and distribute condoms and coat hangers (symbolising abortion) to the young people of WYD.

    The organisers of the event say that as of now there are 250,000 people signed up to attend WYD in Sydney, and that 500,000 young people are expected at the vigil at the Mass with the pope on Saturday and Sunday.

    And they opening Mass, the young people also received a greeting from prime minister Kevin Rudd. ''Some say there is no place for faith in the 21st century", he told them. "I say they are wrong". And he added: "You are welcome guests in our land. May each of you be enriched by your time here among us in Australia, just as you enrich Australia by your time here with us".

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    See also

    10/08/2005 AUSTRALIA – WYD
    Mel Gibson's 'Passion' at the next World Youth Day?
    The Archbishop of Sydney has asked the actor-director to re-enact the Crucifixion in various districts of his city, which will probably host of the 2008 World Youth Day.

    12/07/2008 VATICAN - WYD
    Benedict XVI begins journey toward WYD in Sydney
    After three days of rest, events with the young culminating with the vigil and Eucharistic celebration. Tens of thousands of young people from 160 countries are arriving in Australia. Cardinal Pell: Australia's problem is indifference. Controversy over special regulations against those who disrupt WYD.

    24/02/2014 VATICAN
    Pope sets up a new structure to co-ordinate Vatican economic and administrative affairs
    The Secretariat for the economy will run all administrative and economic activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State under Card George Pell who is currently the archbishop of Sydney.

    10/09/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: SMS to young people of Sydney, who respond
    50 days after World Youth Day, Benedict XVI recalls the event and asks for prayers for his trip to France. The young people pledge to do so, but also share memories and a few personal requests.

    12/12/2007 WORLD YOUTH DAY
    Media registration for WYD begin
    Organisers expect 500,000 participants to the “largest event that Australia will host in terms of international visitors.” Benedict XVI will attend the event which is scheduled for 15-20 July 2008.

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