Desde CAtholic World News:
Sydney, Jul. 15, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The 23rd World Youth Day festivities opened in Sydney, Australia on July 15, with Cardinal George Pell presiding at the inaugural Mass.
During this week's celebration, Cardinal Pell told a vast congregation of over 180,000, his Sydney archdiocese will be "the center of the Catholic world." More than 400 bishops from around the world, and several thousand priests, joined in the opening Eucharistic liturgy at Barangaroo wharf on Sydney's harbor.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd greeted the World Youth Day (WYD) participants, telling them that they represented "so much the light of the world at a time when the world has so much darkness." And Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said that the young visitors had brought "springtime to this Australian winter."
The inaugural Mass began with a procession in which the large wooden WYD Cross-- given to the youth of the world by Pope John Paul II (bio - news)-- was brought into the assembly. The WYD Cross came to Sydney after being carried all around the world after the last such international gathering, in Cologne in 2005. The opening liturgy conveyed the same international flavor, with Scripture readings in Spanish, French, and Italian; the prayers of the faithful were read in English, German, Vietnamese, Polish, and Arabic.
In his homily Cardinal Pell said that everyone is welcome at the WYD gathering, because the Church, guided by the example of Jesus Christ, reaches out to everyone. "Christ's call is to all who are suffering," the cardinal said: "Not just to Catholics or Christians, but especially to those without religion."
The cardinal went on to say that no one should hang back from the call to the Gospel for fear that it is impossible to change one's life. "Secular wisdom claims that leopards do not change their spots," he said. "But we we Christians believe in the power of the Spirit to convert and change persons away from evil to good; from fear and uncertainty to faith and hope."
Cardinal Pell exhorted people-- especially young people-- to make a bold commitment to Christ, and not to "spend their lives sitting on the fence, keeping their options open."
That commitment is not always easy, the cardinal conceded, because "to be a disciple of Christ requires discipline." The duties of Christians also entail carrying the Gospel message to others, he said. He encouraged WYD participants to nourish their spiritual lives during the next few days, and bring their new enthusiasm back to their own countries, communities, and parishes.