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World Youth Day Sydney 2008

XXIII Jornada Mundial de la Juventud - in Australia
10th international WYD / JMJ - Sydney, 15-20 July 2008

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses."
Theme for 23rd WYD/JMJ (cf Acts 1, 8) & BXVI's Message to Young People

Pope Benedict XVI was a pilgrim to Australia for World Youth Day Sydney in July 2008, his second WYD (BXVI's 1st WYD was in Cologne in 2005 & his last was in Madrid in 2011) and his ninth apostolic voyage.

The young people who had already participated in the days in the diocese were joined on Thursday 17th July by Papa Benedetto at the welcoming celebration at Barangaroo, East Darling Harbour of Sydney. The following day, Friday, the Holy Father participated in an ecumenical meeting in the Crypt of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, before meeting with representatives of other religions in the Chapter Hall and then with a group of disadvantaged young people of the rehabilitation community of the University of Notre Dame in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Sydney. On Saturday 19th July Pope Benedict celebrated Holy Mass with the Australian bishops, seminarians and novices, with the Consecration of the new altar, at St Mary’s Cathedral ahead of the WYD vigil with the young people at Randwick Racecourse. The young people camped at Randwick overnight before the final Holy Mass for the 23rd World Youth Day at the end of which was the Recitation of the Angelus Domini. Afterwards BXVI met with WYD benefactors and organizers at the Reception Hall of Cathedral House before his final greeting with the WYD volunteers.

Papa Benedict's words to the Young People at the Welcome Celebration
Barangaroo, Sydney Harbour, Thursday 17 July 2008 - in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Young People,
What a delight it is to greet you here at Barangaroo, on the shores of the magnificent Sydney harbour, with its famous bridge and Opera House. Many of you are local, from the outback or the dynamic multicultural communities of Australian cities. Others of you have come from the scattered islands of Oceania, and others still from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. Some of you, indeed, have come from as far as I have, Europe! Wherever we are from, we are here at last in Sydney. And together we stand in our world as God’s family, disciples of Christ, empowered by his Spirit to be witnesses of his love and truth for everyone!

I wish firstly to thank the Aboriginal Elders who welcomed me prior to my boarding the boat at Rose Bay. I am deeply moved to stand on your land, knowing the suffering and injustices it has borne, but aware too of the healing and hope that are now at work, rightly bringing pride to all Australian citizens. To the young indigenous - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders - and the Tokelauans, I express my thanks for your stirring welcome. Through you, I send heartfelt greetings to your peoples.

Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Wilson, I thank you for your warm words of welcome. I know that your sentiments resonate in the hearts of the young gathered here this evening, and so I thank you all. Standing before me I see a vibrant image of the universal Church. The variety of nations and cultures from which you hail shows that indeed Christ’s Good News is for everyone; it has reached the ends of the earth. Yet I know too that a good number of you are still seeking a spiritual homeland. Some of you, most welcome among us, are not Catholic or Christian. Others of you perhaps hover at the edge of parish and Church life. To you I wish to offer encouragement: step forward into Christ’s loving embrace; recognize the Church as your home. No one need remain on the outside, for from the day of Pentecost the Church has been one and universal.

This evening I wish also to include those who are not present among us. I am thinking especially of the sick or mentally ill, young people in prison, those struggling on the margins of our societies, and those who for whatever reason feel alienated from the Church. To them I say: Jesus is close to you! Feel his healing embrace, his compassion and mercy!

Almost 2000 years ago, the Apostles, gathered in the upper room together with Mary and some faithful women, were filled with the Holy Spirit (cf Acts 1, 14; 2, 4). At that extraordinary moment, which gave birth to the Church, the confusion and fear that had gripped Christ’s disciples were transformed into a vigorous conviction and sense of purpose. They felt impelled to speak of their encounter with the risen Jesus whom they had come to call affectionately, the Lord. In many ways, the Apostles were ordinary. None could claim to be the perfect disciple. They failed to recognize Christ (cf Lk 24, 13-32), felt ashamed of their own ambition (cf Lk 22, 24-27), and had even denied him (cf Lk 22, 54-62). Yet, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, they were transfixed by the truth of Christ’s Gospel and inspired to proclaim it fearlessly. Emboldened, they exclaimed: repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit (cf Acts 2, 37-38)! Grounded in the Apostles’ teaching, in fellowship, and in the breaking of the bread and prayer (cf Acts 2, 42), the young Christian community moved forward to oppose the perversity in the culture around them (cf Acts 2, 40), to care for one another (cf Acts 2, 44-47), to defend their belief in Jesus in the face of hostility (cf Acts 4, 33), and to heal the sick (cf Acts 5, 12-16). And in obedience to Christ’s own command, they set forth, bearing witness to the greatest story ever: that God has become one of us, that the divine has entered human history in order to transform it, and that we are called to immerse ourselves in Christ’s saving love which triumphs over evil and death. Saint Paul, in his famous speech to the Areopagus, introduced the message in this way: “God gives everything – including life and breath – to everyone … so that all nations might seek God and, by feeling their way towards him, succeed in finding him. In fact he is not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17, 25-28).

And ever since, men and women have set out to tell the same story, witnessing to Christ’s truth and love, and contributing to the Church’s mission. Today, we think of those pioneering priests, sisters and brothers who came to these shores, and to other parts of the Pacific, from Ireland, France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe. The great majority were young - some still in their late teens - and when they bade farewell to their parents, brothers and sisters, and friends, they knew they were unlikely ever to return home. Their whole lives were a selfless Christian witness. They became the humble but tenacious builders of so much of the social and spiritual heritage which still today brings goodness, compassion and purpose to these nations. And they went on to inspire another generation. We think immediately of the faith which sustained Blessed Mary MacKillop in her sheer determination to educate especially the poor, and Blessed Peter To Rot in his steadfast resolution that community leadership must always include the Gospel. Think also of your own grandparents and parents, your first teachers in faith. They too have made countless sacrifices of time and energy, out of love for you. Supported by your parish priests and teachers, they have the task, not always easy but greatly satisfying, of guiding you towards all that is good and true, through their own witness - their teaching and living of our Christian faith.

Today, it is my turn. For some of us, it might seem like we have come to the end of the world! For people of your age, however, any flight is an exciting prospect. But for me, this one was somewhat daunting! Yet the views afforded of our planet from the air were truly wondrous. The sparkle of the Mediterranean, the grandeur of the north African desert, the lushness of Asia’s forestation, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the horizon upon which the sun rose and set, and the majestic splendour of Australia’s natural beauty which I have been able to enjoy these last couple of days; these all evoke a profound sense of awe. It is as though one catches glimpses of the Genesis creation story - light and darkness, the sun and the moon, the waters, the earth, and living creatures; all of which are “good” in God’s eyes (cf Gen 1, 1 - 2, 4). Immersed in such beauty, who could not echo the words of the Psalmist in praise of the Creator: “how majestic is your name in all the earth?” (Ps 8, 1).

And there is more – something hardly perceivable from the sky – men and women, made in nothing less than God’s own image and likeness (cf Gen 1, 26). At the heart of the marvel of creation are you and I, the human family “crowned with glory and honour” (Ps 8, 5). How astounding! With the Psalmist we whisper: “what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps 8, 4). And drawn into silence, into a spirit of thanksgiving, into the power of holiness, we ponder.

What do we discover? Perhaps reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption. Some of you come from island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising water levels; others from nations suffering the effects of devastating drought. God’s wondrous creation is sometimes experienced as almost hostile to its stewards, even something dangerous. How can what is “good” appear so threatening?

And there is more. What of man, the apex of God’s creation? Every day we encounter the genius of human achievement. From advances in medical sciences and the wise application of technology, to the creativity reflected in the arts, the quality and enjoyment of people’s lives in many ways are steadily rising. Among yourselves there is a readiness to take up the plentiful opportunities offered to you. Some of you excel in studies, sport, music, or dance and drama, others of you have a keen sense of social justice and ethics, and many of you take up service and voluntary work. All of us, young and old, have those moments when the innate goodness of the human person - perhaps glimpsed in the gesture of a little child or an adult’s readiness to forgive - fills us with profound joy and gratitude.

Yet such moments do not last. So again, we ponder. And we discover that not only the natural but also the social environment – the habitat we fashion for ourselves – has its scars; wounds indicating that something is amiss. Here too, in our personal lives and in our communities, we can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created. Examples abound, as you yourselves know. Among the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment. I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation “explain” that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely “entertainment”?

There is also something sinister which stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth. This is fuelled by the notion, widely held today, that there are no absolute truths to guide our lives. Relativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made “experience” all-important. Yet, experiences, detached from any consideration of what is good or true, can lead, not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, to a lowering of standards, to a loss of self-respect, and even to despair.

Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf Gen 1, 28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything! Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life. Thus the “way” which the Apostles brought to the ends of the earth is life in Christ. This is the life of the Church. And the entrance to this life, to the Christian way, is Baptism.

This evening I wish therefore to recall briefly something of our understanding of Baptism before tomorrow considering the Holy Spirit. On the day of your Baptism, God drew you into his holiness (cf 2 Pet 1, 4). You were adopted as a son or daughter of the Father. You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling place of his Spirit (cf 1 Cor 6, 19). Indeed, towards the conclusion of your Baptism, the priest turned to your parents and those gathered and, calling you by your name, said: “you have become a new creation” (Rite of Baptism, 99).

Dear friends, in your homes, schools and universities, in your places of work and recreation, remember that you are a new creation! As Christians you stand in this world knowing that God has a human face - Jesus Christ - the “way” who satisfies all human yearning, and the “life” to which we are called to bear witness, walking always in his light (cf ibid, 100).

The task of witness is not easy. There are many today who claim that God should be left on the sidelines, and that religion and faith, while fine for individuals, should either be excluded from the public forum altogether or included only in the pursuit of limited pragmatic goals. This secularist vision seeks to explain human life and shape society with little or no reference to the Creator. It presents itself as neutral, impartial and inclusive of everyone. But in reality, like every ideology, secularism imposes a world-view. If God is irrelevant to public life, then society will be shaped in a godless image. When God is eclipsed, our ability to recognize the natural order, purpose, and the “good” begins to wane. What was ostensibly promoted as human ingenuity soon manifests itself as folly, greed and selfish exploitation. And so we have become more and more aware of our need for humility before the delicate complexity of God’s world.

But what of our social environment? Are we equally alert to the signs of turning our back on the moral structure with which God has endowed humanity (cf 2007 World Day of Peace Message, 8)? Do we recognize that the innate dignity of every individual rests on his or her deepest identity - as image of the Creator - and therefore that human rights are universal, based on the natural law, and not something dependent upon negotiation or patronage, let alone compromise? And so we are led to reflect on what place the poor and the elderly, immigrants and the voiceless, have in our societies. How can it be that domestic violence torments so many mothers and children? How can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space – the womb – has become a place of unutterable violence?

My dear friends, God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable. Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Let this be the message that you bring from Sydney to the world!"


Greetings:

"Mi rivolgo ora con affetto ai giovani di lingua italiana. Cari amici, anche questa volta avete risposto numerosi al mio invito, nonostante le difficoltà dovute alla distanza. Vi ringrazio, e voglio salutare anche i vostri coetanei che dall’Italia sono spiritualmente uniti a noi. Vi invito a vivere con grande impegno interiore queste giornate: aprite il cuore al dono dello Spirito Santo, per essere rafforzati nella fede e nella capacità di rendere testimonianza al Signore risorto. Arrivederci!

Chers jeunes francophones, poussés par le désir d’approfondir votre foi, vous êtes venus des extrémités de la terre pour vivre à Sydney l’expérience unique et communautaire d’une rencontre privilégiée avec le Seigneur. C’est l’Esprit Saint qui vous a rassemblés ici. Puisse-t-Il vous permettre de expérimenter sa présence dans votre cœur et vous pousser à rendre témoignage avec ardeur de Jésus-Christ mort et ressuscité pour vous!

Liebe Freunde, die ihr mich in meiner Muttersprache versteht, von Herzen grüße ich euch alle. Erweist euch überall als freudige Zeugen der frohmachenden Botschaft Jesu! Sprecht mutig von eurem Glauben, auch wenn ihr zuweilen auf Widerspruch stößt und das Kreuz der Ablehnung erfährt. Der Herr, der für uns ein größeres Kreuz getragen hat, wird euch beistehen. Gott schenke euch eine gute, gesegnete Zeit hier in Australien.

Queridos jóvenes de lengua española, la misión de ser testigos del Señor en todos los lugares de la tierra es una apasionante tarea, que exige acoger su Palabra e identificarse con Él, compartiendo con los demás la alegría de haber encontrado al verdadero amigo que nunca defrauda. Que este reto agrande vuestra generosidad. Un saludo muy cordial a todos.

Queridos amigos dos vários países de língua oficial portuguesa, bem-vindos a Sidney! A todos saúdo com afecto: os de perto e os de longe. Lá, na vossa Pátria, tereis ouvido Jesus segredar-vos: «Sereis minhas testemunhas… até aos confins do mundo» (Act 1, 8). A viagem mais ou menos longa que enfrentastes para chegar até aqui, à Austrália ou – de seu nome cristão completo – «Terra Austral do Espírito Santo», não deixou em vós a sensação de terdes chegado aos confins do mundo? Pois bem! É com grande alegria que o Papa vos acolhe para vos confirmar como testemunhas de Jesus, por Ele acreditadas com o dom do seu próprio Espírito."

Papa Benedict XVI's words to the Young People at the Prayer Vigil
Randwick Racecourse, Saturday, 19 July 2008 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Young People,
Once again this evening we have heard Christ’s great promise – “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." And we have heard his summons – “be my witnesses throughout the world” (Acts 1:8). These were the very last words which Jesus spoke before his Ascension into heaven. How the Apostles felt upon hearing them, we can only imagine. But we do know that their deep love for Jesus, and their trust in his word, prompted them to gather and to wait; to wait not aimlessly, but together, united in prayer, with the women and Mary in the Upper Room. Tonight, we do the same. Gathered before our much-travelled Cross and the icon of Mary, and under the magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross, we pray. Tonight, I am praying for you and for young people throughout the world. Be inspired by the example of your Patrons! Accept into your hearts and minds the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit! Recognize and believe in the power of the Spirit in your lives!


The other day we talked of the unity and harmony of God’s creation and our place within it. We recalled how in the great gift of baptism we, who are made in God’s image and likeness, have been reborn, we have become God’s adopted children, a new creation. And so it is as children of Christ’s light – symbolized by the lit candles you now hold – that we bear witness in our world to the radiance no darkness can overcome.

Tonight we focus our attention on how to become witnesses. We need to understand the person of the Holy Spirit and his vivifying presence in our lives. This is not easy to comprehend. Indeed the variety of images found in scripture referring to the Spirit – wind, fire, breath – indicate our struggle to articulate an understanding of him. Yet we do know that it is the Holy Spirit who, though silent and unseen, gives direction and definition to our witness to Jesus Christ.


You are already well aware that our Christian witness is offered to a world which in many ways is fragile. The unity of God’s creation is weakened by wounds which run particularly deep when social relations break apart, or when the human spirit is all but crushed through the exploitation and abuse of persons. Indeed, society today is being fragmented by a way of thinking that is inherently short-sighted, because it disregards the full horizon of truth – the truth about God and about us. By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles which enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony.

What is our response, as Christian witnesses, to a divided and fragmented world? How can we offer the hope of peace, healing and harmony to those “stations” of conflict, suffering, and tension through which you have chosen to march with this World Youth Day Cross? Unity and reconciliation cannot be achieved through our efforts alone. God has made us for one another and only in God and his Church can we find the unity we seek. Yet, in the face of imperfections and disappointments – both individual and institutional – we are sometimes tempted to construct artificially a “perfect” community. That temptation is not new. The history of the Church includes many examples of attempts to bypass or override human weaknesses or failures in order to create a perfect unity, a spiritual utopia.


Such attempts to construct unity in fact undermine it! To separate the Holy Spirit from Christ present in the Church’s institutional structure would compromise the unity of the Christian community, which is precisely the Spirit’s gift! It would betray the nature of the Church as the living temple of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit, in fact, who guides the Church in the way of all truth and unifies her in communion and in the works of ministry. Unfortunately the temptation to “go it alone” persists. Some today portray their local community as somehow separate from the so-called institutional Church, by speaking of the former as flexible and open to the Spirit and the latter as rigid and devoid of the Spirit.

Unity is of the essence of the Church; it is a gift we must recognize and cherish. Tonight, let us pray for the resolve to nurture unity: contribute to it! Resist any temptation to walk away! For it is precisely the comprehensiveness, the vast vision, of our faith – solid yet open, consistent yet dynamic, true yet constantly growing in insight – that we can offer our world. Dear young people, is it not because of your faith that friends in difficulty or seeking meaning in their lives have turned to you? Be watchful! Listen! Through the dissonance and division of our world, can you hear the concordant voice of humanity? From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity. Who satisfies that essential human yearning to be one, to be immersed in communion, to be built up, to be led to truth? The Holy Spirit! This is the Spirit’s role: to bring Christ’s work to fulfilment. Enriched with the Spirit’s gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!


Friends, when reciting the Creed we state: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life”. The “Creator Spirit” is the power of God giving life to all creation and the source of new and abundant life in Christ. The Spirit sustains the Church in union with the Lord and in fidelity to the apostolic Tradition. He inspired the Sacred Scriptures and he guides God’s People into the fullness of truth. In all these ways the Spirit is the “giver of life”, leading us into the very heart of God. So, the more we allow the Spirit to direct us, the more perfect will be our configuration to Christ and the deeper our immersion in the life of the Triune God.

This sharing in God’s nature occurs in the unfolding of the everyday moments of our lives where he is always present. There are times, however, when we might be tempted to seek a certain fulfilment apart from God. Jesus himself asked the Twelve: “do you also wish to go away?” Such drifting away perhaps offers the illusion of freedom. But where does it lead? To whom would we go? For in our hearts we know that it is the Lord who has “the words of eternal life”. To turn away from him is only a futile attempt to escape from ourselves. God is with us in the reality of life, not the fantasy! It is embrace, not escape, that we seek! So the Holy Spirit gently but surely steers us back to what is real, what is lasting, what is true. It is the Spirit who leads us back into the communion of the Blessed Trinity!


The Holy Spirit has been in some ways the neglected person of the Blessed Trinity. A clear understanding of the Spirit almost seems beyond our reach. Yet, when I was a small boy, my parents, like yours, taught me the Sign of the Cross. So, I soon came to realize that there is one God in three Persons, and that the Trinity is the centre of our Christian faith and life. While I grew up to have some understanding of God the Father and the Son – the names already conveyed much – my understanding of the third person of the Trinity remained incomplete. So, as a young priest teaching theology, I decided to study the outstanding witnesses to the Spirit in the Church’s history. It was on this journey that I found myself reading, among others, the great Saint Augustine.

Augustine’s understanding of the Holy Spirit evolved gradually; it was a struggle. As a young man he had followed Manichaeism - one of those attempts I mentioned earlier, to create a spiritual utopia by radically separating the things of the spirit from the things of the flesh. Hence he was at first suspicious of the Christian teaching that God had become man. Yet his experience of the love of God present in the Church led him to investigate its source in the life of the Triune God. This led him to three particular insights about the Holy Spirit as the bond of unity within the Blessed Trinity: unity as communion, unity as abiding love, and unity as giving and gift. These three insights are not just theoretical. They help explain how the Spirit works. In a world where both individuals and communities often suffer from an absence of unity or cohesion, these insights help us remain attuned to the Spirit and to extend and clarify the scope of our witness.


So, with Augustine’s help, let us illustrate something of the Holy Spirit’s work. He noted that the two words “Holy” and “Spirit” refer to what is divine about God; in other words what is shared by the Father and the Son – their communion. So, if the distinguishing characteristic of the Holy Spirit is to be what is shared by the Father and the Son, Augustine concluded that the Spirit’s particular quality is unity. It is a unity of lived communion: a unity of persons in a relationship of constant giving, the Father and the Son giving themselves to each other. We begin to glimpse, I think, how illuminating is this understanding of the Holy Spirit as unity, as communion. True unity could never be founded upon relationships which deny the equal dignity of other persons. Nor is unity simply the sum total of the groups through which we sometimes attempt to “define” ourselves. In fact, only in the life of communion is unity sustained and human identity fulfilled: we recognize the common need for God, we respond to the unifying presence of the Holy Spirit, and we give ourselves to one another in service.

Augustine’s second insight – the Holy Spirit as abiding love – comes from his study of the First Letter of Saint John. John tells us that “God is love.” Augustine suggests that while these words refer to the Trinity as a whole they express a particular characteristic of the Holy Spirit. Reflecting on the lasting nature of love - “whoever abides in love remains in God and God in him.” - he wondered: is it love or the Holy Spirit which grants the abiding? This is the conclusion he reaches: “The Holy Spirit makes us remain in God and God in us; yet it is love that effects this. The Spirit therefore is God as love!” (De Trinitate). It is a beautiful explanation: God shares himself as love in the Holy Spirit. What further understanding might we gain from this insight? Love is the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit! Ideas or voices which lack love – even if they seem sophisticated or knowledgeable – cannot be “of the Spirit”. Furthermore, love has a particular trait: far from being indulgent or fickle, it has a task or purpose to fulfil: to abide. By its nature love is enduring. Again, dear friends, we catch a further glimpse of how much the Holy Spirit offers our world: love which dispels uncertainty; love which overcomes the fear of betrayal; love which carries eternity within; the true love which draws us into a unity that abides!


The third insight – the Holy Spirit as gift – Augustine derived from meditating on a Gospel passage we all know and love: Christ’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. Here Jesus reveals himself as the giver of the living water which later is explained as the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is “God’s gift” (Jn 4:10) - the internal spring, who truly satisfies our deepest thirst and leads us to the Father. From this observation Augustine concludes that God sharing himself with us as gift is the Holy Spirit. Friends, again we catch a glimpse of the Trinity at work: the Holy Spirit is God eternally giving himself; like a never-ending spring he pours forth nothing less than himself. In view of this ceaseless gift, we come to see the limitations of all that perishes, the folly of the consumerist mindset. We begin to understand why the quest for novelty leaves us unsatisfied and wanting. Are we not looking for an eternal gift? The spring that will never run dry? With the Samaritan woman, let us exclaim: give me this water that I may thirst no more!

Dear young people, we have seen that it is the Holy Spirit who brings about the wonderful communion of believers in Jesus Christ. True to his nature as giver and gift alike, he is even now working through you. Inspired by the insights of St Augustine: let unifying love be your measure; abiding love your challenge; self-giving love your mission!


Tomorrow, that same gift of the Spirit will be solemnly conferred upon our confirmation candidates. I shall pray: “give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence… and fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe.” These gifts of the Spirit – each of which, as Saint Francis de Sales reminds us, is a way to participate in the one love of God – are neither prizes nor rewards. They are freely given. And they require only one response on the part of the receiver: I accept! Here we sense something of the deep mystery of being Christian. What constitutes our faith is not primarily what we do but what we receive. After all, many generous people who are not Christian may well achieve far more than we do. Friends, do you accept being drawn into God’s Trinitarian life? Do you accept being drawn into his communion of love?

The Spirit’s gifts working within us give direction and definition to our witness. Directed to unity, the gifts of the Spirit bind us more closely to the whole Body of Christ, equipping us better to build up the Church in order to serve the world. They call us to active and joyful participation in the life of the Church: in parishes and ecclesial movements, in religious education classes, in university chaplaincies and other catholic organizations. Yes, the Church must grow in unity, must be strengthened in holiness, must be rejuvenated, must be constantly renewed. But according to whose standard? The Holy Spirit’s! Turn to him, dear young people, and you will find the true meaning of renewal.


Tonight, gathered under the beauty of the night sky, our hearts and minds are filled with gratitude to God for the great gift of our Trinitarian faith. We recall our parents and grandparents who walked alongside us when we, as children, were taking our first steps in our pilgrim journey of faith. Now many years later, you have gathered as young adults with the Successor of Peter. I am filled with deep joy to be with you. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit: he is the artisan of God’s works. Let his gifts shape you! Just as the Church travels the same journey with all humanity, so too you are called to exercise the Spirit’s gifts amidst the ups and downs of your daily life. Let your faith mature through your studies, work, sport, music and art. Let it be sustained by prayer and nurtured by the sacraments, and thus be a source of inspiration and help to those around you. In the end, life is not about accumulation. It is much more than success. To be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God’s love. In accepting the power of the Holy Spirit you too can transform your families, communities and nations. Set free the gifts! Let wisdom, courage, awe and reverence be the marks of greatness!


Greetings:

Cari giovani italiani! Un saluto speciale a tutti voi! Custodite la fiamma che lo Spirito Santo ha acceso nei vostri cuori, perché non abbia a spegnersi, ma anzi arda sempre più e diffonda luce e calore a chi incontrerete sulla vostra strada, specialmente a quanti hanno smarrito la fede e la speranza. La Vergine Maria vegli su di voi in questa notte ed ogni giorno della vostra vita.

Chers jeunes de langue française, vous êtes venus prier ce soir l’Esprit-Saint. Sa présence silencieuse en votre cœur vous fera comprendre peu à peu le dessein de Dieu sur vous. Puisse-t-Il vous accompagner dans votre vie quotidienne et vous conduire vers une meilleure connaissance de Dieu et de votre prochain! C’est Lui qui du plus profond de votre être vous pousse vers l’unique Vérité divine et vous fait vivre authentiquement en frères.

Einen frohen Gruß richte ich an euch, liebe junge Christen aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Der Heilige Geist, der Botschafter der göttlichen Liebe, will in euren Herzen wohnen. Gebt ihm Raum in euch im Hören auf Gottes Wort, im Gebet und in eurer Solidarität mit den Armen und Leidenden. Bringt den Geist des Friedens und der Versöhnung zu den Menschen. Gott, von dem alles Gute kommt, vollende jedes gute Werk, das ihr zu seiner Ehre tut.

Queridos amigos, el Espíritu Santo dirige nuestros pasos para seguir a Jesucristo en el mundo de hoy, que espera de los cristianos una palabra de aliento y un testimonio de vida que inviten a mirar confiadamente hacia el futuro. Os encomiendo en mis plegarias, para que respondáis generosamente a lo que el Señor os pide y a lo que todos los hombres anhelan. Que Dios os bendiga.

Meus queridos amigos, recebei o Espírito Santo, para serdes Igreja! Igreja quer dizer todos nós unidos como um corpo que recebe o seu influxo vital de Jesus ressuscitado. Este dom é maior que os nossos corações, porque brota das entranhas da Santíssima Trindade. Fruto e condição: sentir-se parte uns dos outros, viver em comunhão. Para isso, jovens caríssimos, acolhei dentro de vós a força de vida que há em Jesus. Deixai-O entrar no vosso coração. Deixai-vos plasmar pelo Espírito Santo.

親愛的中國青年,你們好。願天主保佑你們!

And now, as we move towards adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, in stillness and expectation, I echo to you the words spoken by Blessed Mary MacKillop when she was just 26 years old: “Believe in the whisperings of God to your heart!”. Believe in him! Believe in the power of the Spirit of Love!"

Benedict XVI's homily at Mass for the 23rd World Youth Day
Randwick Racecourse - Sunday, 20 July 2008- in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Friends,
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.


In these days I too have come, as the Successor of St Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ’s Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people “from every nation under heaven”, will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of God’s love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ!

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today’s Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us – to all those who have received the Spirit’s gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord’s body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, “one body, one spirit in Christ.”


But what is this “power” of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God’s life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity. He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. 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.

Here in Australia, this “great south land of the Holy Spirit”, all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: “charged”, as the poet says, “with the grandeur of God”, filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord.


The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Church’s sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. St Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the 2nd century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit’s power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: “Come, come to the Father.”

Yet 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. Prayer is pure receptivity to God’s grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive “power from on high”, enabling us to be salt and light for our world.


At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands – witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.

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? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make?


The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God’s Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today’s Gospel! St Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all God’s promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ’s Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity. This power can create a new world: it can “renew the face of the earth”!

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 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? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity’s sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.

The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit! The Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way 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!


In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be “sealed” with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christ’s witnesses. What does it mean to receive the “seal” of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being “baptized” in the one Spirit means being set on fire with the love of God. Being “given to drink” of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lord’s plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being “sealed with the Spirit” 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 civilization of love.

As we pray for the confirmants, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God’s presence!


Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this 23rd World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen."


Greetings:

"Saluto di cuore i giovani di lingua italiana, ed estendo il mio affettuoso pensiero a quanti sono originari dell’Italia e vivono in Australia. Al termine di questa straordinaria esperienza di Chiesa, che ci ha fatto vivere una rinnovata Pentecoste, tornate a casa rinvigoriti dalla forza dello Spirito Santo. Siate testimoni di Cristo risorto, speranza dei giovani e dell’intera famiglia umana!

Chers jeunes francophones, l’Esprit Saint est la source du message de Jésus-Christ et de son action salvifique. Il parle au cœur de chacun le langage qu’il comprend. La diversité des dons de l’Esprit vous fait comprendre la richesse de grâces qui est en Dieu. Puissiez-vous vous ouvrir à son souffle ! Puissiez-vous permettre son action en vous et autour de vous ! Vous vivrez ainsi en Dieu et vous témoignerez que le Christ est le Sauveur que le monde espère.

Auch euch, liebe junge Freunde deutscher Sprache, gilt mein herzlicher Gruß. Der Heilige Geist ist ein Geist der Gemeinschaft und wirkt Verständigung und Kommunikation. Sprecht mit anderen über eure Hoffnungen und Ideale, und sprecht von Gott und mit Gott! Glücklich ist der Mensch, der in der Liebe Gottes und in der Liebe zum Nächsten lebt. Gottes Geist führe euch auf Wegen des Friedens!

Queridos jóvenes, en Cristo se cumplen todas las promesas de salvación verdadera para la humanidad. Él tiene para cada uno de vosotros un proyecto de amor en el que se encuentra el sentido y la plenitud de la vida, y espera de todos vosotros que hagáis fructificar los dones que os ha dado, siendo sus testigos de palabra y con el propio ejemplo. No lo defraudéis.

Amados jovens de língua portuguesa, queridos amigos em Cristo! Sabeis que Jesus não vos quer sozinhos; disse Ele: «Eu rogarei ao Pai e Ele vos dará outro Consolador para estar convosco para sempre, o Espírito da verdade (…) que vós conheceis, porque habita convosco e está em vós» (Jo 14, 16-17). É verdade! Sobre vós desceu uma língua de fogo do Pentecostes: é a vossa marca de cristãos. Mas não foi para a guardardes só para vós, porque «a manifestação do Espírito é dada a cada um para proveito comum» (1 Cor 12, 7). Levai este Fogo santo a todos os cantos da terra. Nada e ninguém O poderá apagar, porque desceu do céu. Tal é a vossa força, caros jovens amigos! Por isso, vivei do Espírito e para o Espírito!

Papa Benedetto's words at the Angelus
Randwick Racecourse, Sunday, 20 July 2008- in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, PolishPortuguese & Spanish

"Dear Young Friends, in the beautiful prayer that we are about to recite, we reflect on Mary as a young woman, receiving the Lord’s summons to dedicate her life to him in a very particular way, a way that would involve the generous gift of herself, her womanhood, her motherhood. Imagine how she must have felt. She was filled with apprehension, utterly overwhelmed at the prospect that lay before her.

The angel understood her anxiety and immediately sought to reassure her. “Do not be afraid, Mary…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk 1, 30, 35). It was the Spirit who gave her the strength and courage to respond to the Lord’s call. It was the Spirit who helped her to understand the great mystery that was to be accomplished through her. It was the Spirit who enfolded her with his love and enabled her to conceive the Son of God in her womb.

This scene is perhaps the pivotal moment in the history of God’s relationship with his people. During the Old Testament, God revealed himself partially, gradually, as we all do in our personal relationships. It took time for the chosen people to develop their relationship with God. The Covenant with Israel was like a period of courtship, a long engagement. Then came the definitive moment, the moment of marriage, the establishment of a new and everlasting covenant. As Mary stood before the Lord, she represented the whole of humanity. In the angel’s message, it was as if God made a marriage proposal to the human race. And in our name, Mary said yes.


In fairy tales, the story ends there, and all “live happily ever after”. In real life it is not so simple. For Mary there were many struggles ahead, as she lived out the consequences of the “yes” that she had given to the Lord. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. When Jesus was 12 years old, she experienced every parent’s worst nightmare when, for 3 days, the child went missing. And after his public ministry, she suffered the agony of witnessing his crucifixion and death. Throughout her trials she remained faithful to her promise, sustained by the Spirit of fortitude. And she was gloriously rewarded.

Dear young people, we too must remain faithful to the “yes” that we have given to the Lord’s offer of friendship. We know that he will never abandon us. We know that he will always sustain us through the gifts of the Spirit. Mary accepted the Lord’s “proposal” in our name. So let us turn to her and ask her to guide us as we struggle to remain faithful to the life-giving relationship that God has established with each one of us. She is our example and our inspiration, she intercedes for us with her Son, and with a mother’s love she shields us from harm."


After the Angelus:

"Dear Friends, The time has come for me to say good-bye – or rather, to say arrivederci! I thank you all for your participation in WYD 2008, here in Sydney, and I look forward to seeing you again in 3 years’ time. World Youth Day 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain. Until then, let us continue to pray for one another, and let us joyfully bear witness to Christ before the world. May God bless you all."

Click here to read the rest of Benedict XVI's words during his trip:
an interview during the flight to Australia (July 12, 2008)
Welcoming ceremony at Government House of Sydney (July 17, 2008)
Welcoming celebration by the young people at Barangaroo, East Darling Harbour of Sydney (July 17, 2008)
Ecumenical Meeting in the Crypt of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney (July 18, 2008)
Meeting with representatives of other religions in the Chapter Hall of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney (July 18, 2008)
Meeting with a group of disadvantaged young people of the rehabilitation community of the University of Notre Dame (July 18, 2008)
Homily at Mass with the Australian Bishops, seminarians and novices at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney (July 19, 2008)
Meeting with benefactors and organizers of the 23rd World Youth Day (July 20, 2008)
Greeting to the volunteers of the 23rd World Youth Day (July 21, 2008)
Farewell ceremony at the International Airport of Sydney (July 21, 2008)
© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Papa Benedict XVI's message to the Beloved People of Australia & to the Young Pilgrims taking part in World Youth Day 2008
- in English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you! In a few days from now, I shall begin my apostolic visit to your country, in order to celebrate the 23rd World Youth Day in Sydney. I very much look forward to the days that I shall spend with you, and especially to the opportunities for prayer and reflection with young people from all over the world.

First of all, I want to express my appreciation to all those who have offered so much of their time, their resources and their prayers in support of this celebration. The Australian Government and the State Government of New South Wales, the organizers of all the events, and members of the business community who have provided sponsorship – all of you have willingly supported this event, and on behalf of the young people taking part in World Youth Day, I thank you most sincerely. Many of the young people have made great sacrifices in order to undertake the journey to Australia, and I pray that they will be rewarded abundantly. The parishes, schools and host families have been most generous in welcoming these young visitors, and they too deserve our thanks and our appreciation.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1, 8). This is the theme of the 23rd World Youth Day. How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! There are still many who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, while many others, for whatever reason, have not recognized in this Good News the saving truth that alone can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts. The Psalmist prays: “when you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104, 30). It is my firm belief that young people are called to be instruments of that renewal, communicating to their peers the joy they have experienced through knowing and following Christ, and sharing with others the love that the Spirit pours into their hearts, so that they too will be filled with hope and with thanksgiving for all the good things they have received from God our heavenly Father.

Many young people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers. They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions. They are challenged by the arguments of those who deny the existence of God and they wonder how to respond. They see great damage done to the natural environment through human greed and they struggle to find ways to live in greater harmony with nature and with one another.

Where can we look for answers? The Spirit points us towards the way that leads to life, to love and to truth. The Spirit points us towards Jesus Christ. There is a saying attributed to St Augustine: “If you wish to remain young, seek Christ”. In him we find the answers that we are seeking, we find the goals that are truly worth living for, we find the strength to pursue the path that will bring about a better world. Our hearts find no rest until they rest in the Lord, as St Augustine says at the beginning of the Confessions, the famous account of his own youth. My prayer is that the hearts of the young people who gather in Sydney for the celebration of World Youth Day will truly find rest in the Lord, and that they will be filled with joy and fervour for spreading the Good News among their friends, their families, and all whom they meet.

Dear Australian friends, although I will only be able to spend a few days in your country, and I will not be able to travel outside Sydney, my heart reaches out to all of you, including those who are sick or in difficulties of any kind. On behalf of all the young people, I thank you again for your support of my mission and I ask you to continue praying for them especially. It remains only for me to renew my invitation to the young people from all over the world to join me in Australia, the great “southern land of the Holy Spirit”. I look forward to seeing you there! May God bless you all.

From the Vatican, 4 July 2008

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

Papa Benedict XVI's interview during the flight to Australia
Saturday, 12 July 2008 - in English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Fr Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office and Vatican Radio, introduced the question-and-answer session.

Lucio Brunelli (Italian Television - RAI): "Your Holiness, this is your second World Youth Day. The first - let us say - that is entirely your own. What are your feelings as you prepare for it and what is the main message that you want to communicate to the young people? Then, do you think that World Youth Days deeply affect the life of the Church that hosts them? And, lastly, do you think that the formula of these youth meetings on a massive scale is still relevant today?"

The Holy Father: "I am going to Australia with feelings of great joy. I have the most beautiful memories of the World Youth Day in Cologne; it was not merely a mass event, it was above all a great celebration of faith, a human encounter in communion with Christ. We saw how faith opens borders, how it truly has an ability to unite the different cultures and that it creates joy. And I hope this will be so now in Australia. Therefore, I am delighted to see many young people and to see them united in the desire for God and in the desire for a truly human world. The essential message is suggested by the words that constitute the slogan of this World Youth Day: we are speaking of the Holy Spirit who makes us Christ's witnesses. I would thus like to focus my message precisely on this reality of the Holy Spirit who appears in different dimensions: he is the Spirit who was active in the Creation. The dimension of the Creation is very present because he is the Creator Spirit. It seems to me an important subject at the present moment. However, the Spirit is also the inspirer of Scripture: on our journey, in the light of Scripture we can move on together with the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is Christ's Spirit, hence, he guides us in communion with Christ and reveals himself, St Paul says, ultimately in charisms, that is, in a great number of unexpected gifts that change the different epochs and give the Church fresh strength. These dimensions, therefore, invite us to see the traces of the Spirit and to make the Spirit visible to others, too. A World Youth Day is not merely a passing event: it is prepared for in advance by a long journey with the Cross and the Icon of Our Lady, which in turn is not only prepared for from the organizational but also from the spiritual viewpoint. Consequently, these days are the culmination of a long previous process. Everything is the fruit of a journey, of being together on a journey leading to Christ. Moreover, the World Youth Day creates a history, that is, friendships are formed, new inspirations are born: thus the World Youth Day continues. I think this is very important: not only to see these three or four days, but to see the entire journey that precedes them, as well as the subsequent journey. In this sense, it seems to me that World Youth Day - at least for us in the near future - is a valid formula which prepares us to understand that in different perspectives and from different parts of the earth we are moving on towards Christ and towards communion. This is how we learn a new way of journeying on together. In this sense, I hope that it will also be a formula for the future."

Mr Paul John Kelly (The Australian Newspaper): "Holy Father, I would like to ask my question in English: Australia is a very secular land, with low religious practice and much religious indifference. I'd like to ask whether you are optimistic about the future of the Church in Australia, or are worried and alarmed that the Australian Church may follow the European path to decline? What message would you offer Australia to overcome its religious indifference?"

The Holy Father
: "I will do my best in English, but I beg your pardon for my insufficiencies in English. I think Australia in its present historical configuration is a part of the "Western world", economically and politically, and so it is clear that Australia shares also the successes and the problems of the Western world. The Western world has had in the last 50 years great successes - economic successes, technical successes; yet religion - Christian faith - is in a certain sense in crisis. This is clear because there is the impression that we do not need God, we can do all on our own, that we do not need God to be happy, we do not need God to create a better world, that God is not necessary, we can do all by ourselves. On the other hand we see that religion is always present in the world and will always be present because God is present in the heart of the human being and can never disappear. We see how religion is really a force in this world and in countries. I would not simply speak about a decline of religion in Europe: certainly there is a crisis in Europe, not so much in America but nevertheless there too, and in Australia. But on the other hand, there is always a presence of the faith in new forms, and in new ways; in the minority, perhaps, but always present for all the society to see. And now in this historical moment, we begin to see that we do need God. We can do so many things, but we cannot create our climate. We thought we could do it, but we cannot do it. We need the gift of the Earth, the gift of water, we need the Creator; the Creator reappears in his creation. And so we also come to understand that we cannot be really happy, cannot be really promoting justice for all the world, without a criterion at work in our own ideas, without a God who is just, and gives us the light, and gives us life. So, I think there will be in a certain sense in this "Western world" a crisis of our faith, but we will always also have a revival of the faith, because Christian faith is simply true, and the truth will always be present in the human world, and God will always be truth. In this sense, I am in the end optimistic."

Mr Auskar Surbakti of SBS, the Australian television: "Holy Father, I am sorry but I do not speak Italian well so I will be asking my question in English. There has been a call from Australian victims of sexual abuse by clergy for Your Holiness to address the issue and to offer an apology to the victims during your visit to Australia. Cardinal Pell himself has said that it would be appropriate for the Pope to address the issue, and you yourself made a similar gesture on your recent trip to the United States. Will Your Holiness be speaking on the issue of sexual abuse and will you be offering an apology?"

The Holy Father: "Yes, the problem is essentially the same as in the United States. I felt obliged to speak about it in the United States because it is essential for the Church to reconcile, to prevent, to help and also to see guilt in these problems, so I will essentially say the same things as I said in America. As I said we have three dimensions to clarify: the first I mention is our moral teaching. It must be clear, it was always clear from the first centuries that priesthood, to be a priest, is incompatible with this behaviour, because the priest is in the service of Our Lord, and Our Lord is holiness in person, and always teaching us - the Church has always insisted on this. We have to reflect on what was insufficient in our education, in our teaching in recent decades: there was, in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the idea of proportionalism in ethics: it held that no thing is bad in itself, but only in proportion to others; with proportionalism it was possible to think for some subjects - it could also be paedophilia - that in some proportion they could be a good thing. Now, it must be stated clearly, this was never Catholic doctrine. There are things which are always bad, and paedophilia is always bad. In our education, in the seminaries, in our permanent formation of the priests, we have to help priests to really be close to Christ, to learn from Christ, and so to be helpers, and not adversaries of our fellow human beings, of our Christians. So, we will do everything possible to clarify what is the teaching of the Church and help in the education and in the preparation of priests, in permanent formation, and we will do all possible to heal and to reconcile the victims. I think this is the essential content of what the word "apologize" says. I think it is better, more important to give the content of the formula, and I think the content has to say what was insufficient in our behaviour, what we must do in this moment, how we can prevent and how we all can heal and reconcile."

Mrs Martine Nouaille, of "Agence France Presse": One of the topics of the recent G8 meeting in Japan was the battle against climate change. Australia is a Country that is very sensitive to this topic because of the severe drought and dramatic climactic events in this region of the world. Do you think that the decisions taken in this context are equal to the challenge? Will you be speaking on this subject during your Visit?

The Holy Father: As I already said in my first answer, this problem will certainly be present at this World Youth Day since we are speaking of the Holy Spirit and consequently of the Creation and of our responsibilities with regard to Creation. I do not claim to enter into the technicalities that politicians and experts must resolve but rather to provide an essential impetus, to make the responsibilities visible so that we may respond to this great challenge: to rediscover the Face of the Creator in Creation, to rediscover in the Creator's presence our responsibilities for his Creation, which he has entrusted to us, to form the ethical capacity for a lifestyle that we must adopt if we wish to tackle the problems of this situation and if we really want to reach positive solutions. Therefore, I would like to awaken awareness and to make people see the broad context of this problem to which fitting answers, which do not depend on us, will be applied by political policies and experts.

Cindy Wooden of CNS, Catholic News Service: While you are in Australia, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion which is also very widespread in Australia, will be meeting at the Lambeth Conference. One of the main topics will be possible ways of strengthening communion between the provinces and of finding a way to ensure that one or more provinces do not take initiatives that the others see as contrary to the Gospel or to Tradition. There is a risk of the fragmentation of the Anglican Communion and the possibility that some may ask to be received into the Catholic Church. What are your hopes for the Lambeth Conference and for the Archbishop of Canterbury?

The Holy Father: My essential contribution can only be prayer and with my prayers I shall be very close to the Anglican Bishops meeting at the Lambeth Conference. We cannot and must not intervene immediately in their discussions, we respect their responsibilities and what we desire is that new divisions or ruptures may be avoided and a responsible solution found in keeping with our time and also with fidelity to the Gospel. These two things must go hand in hand. Christianity is always contemporary and lives in this world, in a certain period, but it makes Jesus Christ's message present in this period and therefore makes a true contribution to this time only by being faithful in a way that is mature and creative but faithful to Christ's message. Let us hope, and I am personally praying, that together they may find the path of the Gospel in our day. This is my hope for the Archbishop of Canterbury: that the Anglican Communion in communion with the Gospel of Christ and of the Word of the Lord may find responses to the current challenges.