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Pope’s visit will reinvigorate Catholicism

The Pope’s visit to Australia in 2008 will reinvigorate Catholicism, especially among our youth, Catholic Mission National Director Father Terry Bell said.

Catholic Mission – known internationally as the Pontifical Mission Societies – is the Church’s global mission aid agency and has the Pontiff at its head.

Pope Benedict XVI intends to attend World Youth Day in July 2008 in Sydney.

Father Terry said he was thrilled at the prospect of a papal visit on home soil – the last time a Pope visited was John Paul II’s journey for the beatification of Blessed Mary MacKillop in 1995.

“The death of Pope John Paul II a year ago was such a momentous occasion that it focused the world on the Catholic Church,” Father Terry said.

“It will be wonderful to refocus the world, and particularly Australia, but this time there will be optimism and joy rather than sadness.”

The 23rd World Youth Day 2008 will take place at Homebush Bay. It is being overseen by Cardinal George Pell and will include prayers and cultural displays, culminating in a celebration of an open-air Vigil and Mass by the Pope.

The annual gathering of Catholic young people was created by Pope John Paul II in 1984 to encourage greater involvement, commitment and participation.

It is celebrated in local dioceses every year but a week-long festival is held every 2–3 years attracting hundreds of thousands of people internationally.

Thousands of young Australians attended World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, last year.

Father Terry hopes to meet Pope Benedict XVI in May when he will visit the Vatican as part of an annual meeting of National Directors.

“Pope Benedict is a great supporter of the missionary work of the Church so I am sure his visit will not only inspire our youth. It will also remind all people of the Church’s great successes and needs, particularly in providing for the marginalised and oppressed people of the world and leading them to Jesus,” Father Terry said.

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