Friday, July 11, 2008

Off to Sydney

With the pilgrims already turning up, the Pope leaves tomorrow for Sydney and next week's World Youth Day -- the first time the church's "Olympic event" has headed south of the equator since Buenos Aires hosted the second global WYD back in 1987.

Before anything else -- especially given the release's popularity 'round these parts prior to the US visit -- the Holy See has dropped the pontiff's Missal for next weekend's liturgical celebrations (file opens as pdf). Notable among the rites are Saturday morning's dedication of the new main altar in the city's St Mary's Cathedral and the inclusion of the rite of Confirmation for 24 young people at next Sunday's closing liturgy at Randwick Racecourse.

In light of the traditional context of the initiation of adults within the Easter Season, the latter only came after local organizers reportedly faced off with Vatican officials, as the latter sought to maintain that the Easter custom was of greater import than playing to the Sydney WYD theme, which focuses on the Holy Spirit.

Expected to be held before a crowd of over a quarter-million, in an effort to boost turnout even further the local bishops have sought in recent months to make Mass at Randwick -- where Popes Paul VI and John Paul II both celebrated the Eucharist on their Oz tours -- the lone Sunday morning liturgy in the Sydney area.