Almost as if through the back door, Pope Benedict XVI. arrived in Sydney on Sunday. So low-key and without any ceremony that his ninth major trip abroad hasn't really begun yet, certainly not in a country known for its loud cordiality. After the longest flight in the history of the pope – 21 hours with a fuel stop in Darwin, northern Australia – the 81-year-old head of the church is recovering from his jet lag in a strictly private environment. He will spend three days reading, resting and playing the piano at an Opus Dei study center in Kenthurst, near Sydney.
The big welcome party will have to wait until Thursday. But expectations are high when Benedict XVI. with a symbolic harbor entrance to the 23rd anniversary of the Pope's birth. World Youth Day in the South Australian metropolis joins in. This is his second meeting after the one in Cologne in 2005, but it is the first one that was prepared during his term of office. These days, about 225.000 young people prepared for the meeting with their pope with a spiritual program. He himself, meanwhile, already named ies on the flight that will be discussed during his stay until 21. July should play a role. They point far beyond youth meeting. Here's how the pope plans to take an official stand in Australia on the sexual offenses committed by Catholic clergy against minors. Only three months earlier, he had expressed "deep shame" in the U.S. and met face to face with victims of abuse. Now, on his way there, he announced to journalists that he would say "essentially the same things as in America" on the subject – a bitter admission of how international the emergency is. "We will do everything possible for the victims to heal and reconcile," the pope said. At the same time, he said, the Church must ask itself self-critically what has been insufficient in its crisis management and in its priestly formation. In the moral ies concerned, Benedict XVI urges. on a clearer line than some ethicists have shown in the past: "There are things that are always bad, and pedophilia is always bad."
Climate change as a central theme Among young people, the pope wants to make ecology and climate change a central theme. When Benedict XVI. looking out of the window during the flight across the continent, he could see burning scrubland – consequences of a long drought. He, the intellectual and theologian, knows that the meeting of young Catholics under the motto "You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit" must not be content with spiritual navel-gazing. It is about a Pentecostal new beginning at the World Youth Day, "and consequently we therefore speak of our responsibility for creation". "We cannot create our climate ourselves," says Benedict XVI. He is convinced that with this insight will grow not only a new awareness of creation, but also of the Creator. "At this historical moment, we are beginning to realize that we need God."And that is why the pope says he is "optimistic" about the future of the church in society, optimistic despite the crisis facing religion in Australia as well as in Europe and even in once faith-firm North America. That erosion is also gnawing away at "terra australis," the "southern land of the Holy Spirit," the pope does not deny at all, even if he does not want to speak of a global decline of religion.
Messages on ecumenism and church crisis In percentage terms, Catholics still form the strongest community in Australia at 26 percent. That they have outstripped the Anglicans is simply because their faithful are dwindling even more massively. The pope was also asked about his relationship with the Anglican Church on his way to Sydney. Benedict XVI. refrained from commenting on homosexual ministers and women's episcopal ordinations – ies that are troubling the Anglican world communion enough themselves ahead of its Lambeth conference, which begins Wednesday. The conference must find solutions to its questions in responsibility before the present and in fidelity to the Gospel, he said. He is close to them in prayer, the pope said. What other messages on ecumenism and the church crisis, on the new evangelization and overcoming the shadows in the church's past he has in his luggage, his speeches from Thursday will show. In any case, he has already sharpened the attention before his discreet landing.