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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, July 21, 2008
Last night probably towards one million young Catholics slept under the stars at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse. In the morning (midnight last night our time) the Pope arrived to celebrate the World Youth Day (WYD) Mass. Last Thursday officially over 500,000 people were greeted by Pope Benedict in Sydney Harbour. He spoke the words printed in the bottom left box inside this newsletter.

When I was with two million youngsters at the Millennium Year WYD in Rome (the biggest ever recorded gathering of human beings in Europe) the British press reported virtually noth-ing of the event. This time the approach appears to be to report it in conjunction with abuse cases from the past, and to report lower numbers. British broadsheets stated 200,000 as last Thursday’s figure. There were definitely 140,000 in the actual arena and the Pope made a special boat trip to greet the larger numbers outside. The Vocations Director for the Diocese of Southwark, Fr Stephen Langridge, who is there, wrote the following words two days ago.

“The big talking point today is the British media's response to what will probably be the best WYD ever. It's reported (in major Australian papers) that a war memorial was defaced (with “pro-Pope graffiti). It's true but there's no suggestion it was done by the youth who've come here. Much more likely to have been the small but vociferous opponents to the WYD celebrations. Cardinal Cormac is due to give a talk tomorrow but he's had to be warned that the British media are flying out a victim of abuse now living in Britain. Unbelievable as the locals are saying.
“On the ground things are fantastic! We had a superb opening Mass yesterday with a particularly warm welcome from the PM who really nailed his colours to the mast in defence of Christianity and the Christian - especially the Catholic - heritage of Australia. Cardinal Pell gave a heartfelt homily that touched the thousands of people present. The Mass was reverent and very prayerful - even allowing for the joyful enthusiasm of the young people.
“Sydney has been won over. Everywhere we go people wave and toot their horns, we are thanked for coming and welcomed warmly. The local response couldn't be better. So what's the local media saying? Well they found a taxi driver who isn't getting any trade. His response? "That's fine. I just like watching them. They are so good". And a woman sitting in 'Hungry Jacks' who is disturbed by a big group of young people & nuns -"They’re so cute”
“Whatever the British media might say, WDY Sydney 2008 is a massive success story. And having spent the afternoon in the prayer room and hearing confessions, I have seen that God's grace is touching hearts, breaking through barriers, and winning converts: Big Time!!!”

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:33 am