Ahead of the usual schedule (midday) Benedict XVI described the great event in Sydney that brought together 350,000 young people from around the world.
“It was like a multicolour mosaic, with young men and women from around the world, all united by the one faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “People called them ‘Young pilgrims of the world’; a beautiful expression that catches the essence of these international days that John Paul II began.
These meetings constitute the stages of a great pilgrimage around the world that show how faith in Christ makes us all into the children of the one Father who is in Heaven, and builders of a civilisation of love.”
The Pope stressed that the WYD is not, as it is often said, the ‘Catholic Woodstock’, but an important moment of catechesis and missionary responsibility.
“Typical of the Sydney meeting was realising the central place of the Holy Spirit, the protagonist in the life of the Church and of Christians,” said the Benedict XVI. “The long journey of preparation by the various Churches had as its theme the pledge made by the risen Christ to the Apostle: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts, 1:8). On 16, 17 and 18 July in the churches of Sydney, the many bishops present exercised their ministry, proposing the catechesis in various languages. These catecheses are indispensable moments of reflection and meditation so that the event does not remain only an external manifestation and leave instead a deep mark on the mind. The evening vigil in the heart of the city, under the Southern Cross, was a choral invocation of the Holy Spirit. Finally, during last Sunday’s great Eucharistic celebration, I administered the Sacrament of the Confirmation to 24 young people from different continents, 14 from Australia, urging all those present to renew their baptismal pledge. Thus this World Day has become a new Pentecost, from which young people left on mission, called to be apostles among their fellows as did many saints and blessed, especially the Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati, whose relics are here in Sydney cathedral, and which were venerated by an endless pilgrimage of young people. Every young man and woman was urged to follow his example, and share their personal experience of Jesus, which changes the life of his ‘friends’ with the strength of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God’s love.”
The Pope thanked Australia’s bishops, especially Card George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, for their work, as well as Australia’s authorities and all those around the world who prayed for the event, a difficult undertaking in a country known for its strong secularism.
The Pope then announced that tomorrow he would go on vacation to Bressanone (Brixen), a town nestled in South Tyrol’s mountains (northern Italy) which he often visited when he was a priest and archbishop.
At the end of the Marian prayer the Pope greeted all those who are holidaying, wishing them “quiet days of rewarding physical and spiritual relaxation.”
He did not however forget those who cannot go on holiday, saying: “My thoughts go to the sick in hospital or in a health centre, to convicts, the elderly, and those who are alone or spend the summer in the heat of the cities. To each one of them I feel affectionately close; they are in my thoughts in prayer.”
At the end, among the final greetings, he mentioned the presence of the members of the General Assembly of the Focolari movement and the young people of the “Compagnia dei Tipi Loschi” of the blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.