Friday, July 18, 2008

Old and New, Indoors and Out: The Pope's Sydney Saturday

As the sun rises over Saturday morning in Sydney, the climax of this World Youth Day draws ever nearer... but not before its main attraction offers several flourishes of his own.

At the day's first event -- a Mass for bishops, seminarians and novices in St Mary's Cathedral to dedicate its new main altar -- Pope Benedict (shown above watching yesterday's Via Crucis) is expected to make his first intervention on Australian soil on the issue of clergy sex abuse. Having overshadowed the run-up to this week's festivities, it briefly returned to the top line again on Wednesday after the lead WYD organizer, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, publicly panned those employing the celebrations for "dwelling crankily on old wounds."

Slated to begin at 9.30am local time (2330GMT; 7pm Eastern Friday), the liturgy will showcase the trappings of tradition. The pontiff will enter the historic Gothic cathedral to the strains of the Tu Es Petrus, the Creed and Te Deum will be chanted in Latin, Benedict clad in Mass vestments inspired by a 16th century image of St Martin of Tours. (Speaking of vestments, a more contemporary design -- featuring an Aboriginal depiction of the Holy Spirit -- is said to be on-deck for Sunday's closing Eucharist.)

After lunch with the Australian bishops and a notably-long window (four hours) without any public activities planned, B16 & Co. will make their first trip to Randwick Racecourse -- where, earlier in the day, the 200,000 or so pilgrims made their way by foot, crossing Harbour Bridge on their route from the city center. There, the Pope will preside at the traditional WYD Saturday Vigil -- a two-hour event of prayer and witness talks, closing with adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. At the evening event (beginning at 7pm local; 0900GMT 5am Eastern), the 24 Confirmation candidates who'll receive the sacrament at the Sunday liturgy are expected to make their first appearance, flanking Papa Ratzi during the adoration rite.

Alongside the aforementioned webstreams with video coverage (both live and on-demand), those especially keen to follow along with both the Mass and Vigil might find the Visit Missal -- the Pope's own book of ceremonies for the trip -- of use; the former can be found beginning on p. 55, and the evening rite from p. 109. What's more, the impressions of the pilgrims will provide an even more intimate glimpse into the days ahead; among the many places to find 'em, there's the CNS WYD page,, pilgrimage journals from Indianapolis, San Antone, the Sisters of Life, two from Toronto and, of course, the "virtual pilgrimage" compiled a horde of youth reporters and others... with texts and everything else to appear here as they drop.

A Happy Weekend to one and all and, as always, thanks for reading. Hope everyone's enjoying it.

PHOTO: Reuters(1)