Sydney: July 17, 2008. Up to 500,000 people including local and international pilgrims greeted Pope Benedict XVI in Sydney today as his official WYD08 program began.
After arriving in the CBD last night, His Holiness will reside at St Mary’s Cathedral House – the full-time residence of Archbishop of Sydney – for the remainder of his stay in Australia.
Commencing with a formal welcome from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at Government House from 9am, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was also greeted by Governor-General Michael Jeffery, NSW Governor Marie Bashir AC CVO and Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell.
“The Holy Father has experienced a typically warm welcome to Sydney. His World Youth Day program is now well-and-truly underway,” said Father Mark Podesta, WYD08 spokesperson.
From 9.30am His Holiness proceeded across Sydney Harbour Bridge to North Sydney where 100 guests at Mary MacKillop Chapel joined him. The Holy Father met with the Sisters of Saint Joseph before praying at the tomb of Blessed Mary MacKillop.
Fr Mark said the Papal visit to the tomb was a very special moment for Australians, as Mary MacKillop is Australia’s only blessed.
“The Holy Father was very peaceful as he prayed over blessed Mary MacKillop’s tomb.”
Before commencing the Papal Boat-a-cade to Barangaroo, Pope Benedict sent out his daily text message: “The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of salvation history: let him write your life-history 2! – BXVI”
WYD08 Papal Boat-a-cade:
Upon arrival at Rose Bay this afternoon, His Holiness received a welcome to country from indigenous elders including Uncle Alan Madden, a traditional custodian of the local Gadigal land.
Tens of thousands lined Sydney’s foreshore to catch a glimpse of His Holiness as the Papal Boat-a-cade made its way from Rose Bay around to Barangaroo, East Darling Harbour.
Travelling on board the Sydney 2000, Pope Benedict was accompanied by 530 people, including 60 Australian Cardinals and Bishops, the Papal Entourage, 10 indigenous representatives, 160 international pilgrims and 20 young Australians in a cruise around the harbour.
“The route was designed so that as many people as possible could get a good vantage point from the foreshore,” said Father Mark.
“His Holiness stood waving in full-view of the crowd on board the vessel. It looked very impressive against the backdrop of our beautiful harbour.”
The Papal vessel was closely shadowed by a VIP craft and a media boat while another 10 Captain Cook Cruises passenger boats carrying 1,900 pilgrims followed the flotilla around the harbour.
WYD08 Papal Welcome – Barangaroo:
The Holy Father’s boat arrived at Barangaroo at 3.30pm, greeted by an Indigenous Guard of Honour to mark the transition of the care of the Holy Father from traditional custodians to the youth of the world.
His Holiness joined many cardinals and youth from all around the world upon the sanctuary where indigenous and non-indigenous musicians celebrated the arrival, against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour,
Pope Benedict was welcomed by Cardinal Pell and the President of the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference Archbishop Philip Wilson, before he spoke to the 140,000 pilgrims in attendance at Barangaroo.
WYD08 Papal Motorcade:
Shortly after 5pm Pope Benedict moved to the front of the sanctuary and entered the Popemobile. The vehicle, manufactured by Mercedes Benz, was especially delivered from Italy and carried His Holiness through the Sydney CBD streets where hundreds of thousands people witnessed the procession.
Pope Benedict’s big day out concluded at 5.40pm when the Papal Motor-cade reached St Mary’s Cathedral House.
Tomorrow Sydney will host the spectacular launch of Stations of the Cross, where the final hours of Jesus’ life are played out through CBD streets, beginning at St Mary’s Cathedral and concluding at the northern end of Barangaroo.