Clara reports from the first major event of WYD - the Mass for 150,00 on Sydney's waterfront:
After noting that registration was very slow and frustrating (although our team had already registered online months ago) due to the fact that 50,000 unregistered people have just "shown up" and swamped the organizers, Clara writes:
All this frustration evaporated at the extraordinary Opening Mass - stunning location, beautiful liturgy. Attendance is estimated at 150,000 with many being turned away. Cardinal Pell's homily was his best ever. I was almost in tears by the end. Hopefully, the full text will soon be available on the Sydney diocesan website.
Here's a excerpt:
Our first reading today was from Ezekiel, with Isaiah and Jeremiah, one of the three greatest Jewish prophets,” he said.
“Many parts of Australia are still in drought, so all Australians understand a valley of dry bones and fleshless skeletons.”
Dr Pell also called out to those who may find themselves “lost” or in deep distress.
“Earlier in this mass I welcomed you all to this World Youth Day week ... but I do not begin with the 99 healthy sheep, those of you already open to the Spirit, perhaps already steady witnesses to faith and love,” he said.
“I begin by welcoming and encouraging anyone, anywhere, who regards himself or herself as lost, in deep distress, with hope diminished or even exhausted.
“Young or old, woman or man, Christ is still calling those who are suffering to come for healing, as he has for 2,000 years.”
The new Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is openly Christian and also spoke at the Mass.
In the context of the debate in this country which is trying to divorce religion and politics the following comments from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd are hugely significant:
"Some say there is no place for faith in the 21st century. I say they are wrong. Some say that faith is the enemy of reason, I say, also they are wrong. Because faith and reason are great partners in our human history and in our human future. Rich in humanity, rich in scientific progress. Some say only that which they see wrong in Christianity and in the church, I say let us speak also about what is right in Christianity and the church."
I was assured after the Mass by Tony Burke MP, a member or the Rudd cabinet, that the Prime Minister writes his own material.
Clara promises some photos a bit later.
Delayed coverage of the Mass will begin on EWTN about 10 am Mountain Time. Unless you were one of the really committed who stayed up all night watching it live. I went to bed!