Saturday, July 19, 2008

Papal message in Australia is strong on environment's importance

ABC news report:
Pope Benedict has addressed thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims gathered at Barangaroo who have waited hours to watch his official welcome.

Pilgrims cheered and waved the flags of numerous different nations as the Pope's motorcade was driven towards the stage at east Darling Harbour, where he gave an official welcome.

He was greeted by troupes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers as well as a group from the Pacific nation of Tokelau.

The Catholic Archibishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, also made a short speech to welcome the Pontiff.

Pope Benedict led the crowd in a short prayer and thanked Cardinal Pell as well as Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson for their "warm welcome".

The Pope also thanked Aboriginal elders who had welcomed him before boarding a boat from Rose Bay, as well as the Aboriginal dancers who greeted him as he walked up the ramp to the large stage at Barangaroo.

"I am deeply moved to stand on your land, knowing the suffering and injustices it has borne, but aware too of the healing and hope that are now at work," he said.

From the red stage at Barangaroo, which is in similar colour tones to the papal garments, Pope Benedict smiled and waved to the estimated several hundred thousand pilgrims.

The Pope began his address with prayers and blessings, but his speech repeatedly referred to the need to care for the environment, acknowledging that climate change means there will be hard times ahead around the globe.

"God's creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity," Pope Benedict said.

"Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth - erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.

"Some of you come from island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising water levels, others from nations suffering the effects of devastating drought.

"God's wondrous creation is sometimes experienced as almost hostile to its stewards, even something dangerous."

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