Pope Benedict has arrived in Sydney for WYD.  During his flight he spoke to reporters about his hopes for WYD. 

This podcast made available from Vatican Radio

Benedict XVI affirmed that he is optimistic about the future of the Church in the West during the nearly 20-hour flight from Rome to Sydney this weekend. The Holy Father is in Australia to preside over World Youth Day, to be held July 15-20 in Sydney.

After traveling 16,418 kilometers (10,201 miles), the Pope arrived at Richmond Royal Australian Air Force Base, located northwest of Sydney, at about 3 p.m. local time on Sunday.  He was greeted by, among others, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney.

Interview

The Pontiff spoke for 20 minutes with journalists on the papal flight in which he answered five questions.

When asked about the situation of the Church in Australia, Benedict XVI said he is “an optimist.”

“Now at this historical moment we begin to see that we need God,” the Pope continued. “Australia in its historical configuration is part of the Western world.

“The West over the past 50 years has seen great success, economic and technological success. But religion has been relegated.”

“God is basically in the hearts of human beings and can never disappear,” he affirmed.

Healing

The Pontiff said that while in Australia he intends to work for “healing and reconciliation with the victims” of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy there, much as he did when he traveled to the United States in April.

Sexual abuse is “incompatible with the behavior” required of priests, the Holy Father added.

“We have to help the priests to be […] near to Christ, to learn from Christ,” he added. “We will do what is possible to clarify what is the teaching of the Church. We will help in the education and in the preparation to the priesthood, the permanent formation.

“It is essential for the Church to reconcile, to prevent, to help and to see guilt in this problem.”

When asked about climate change, Benedict XVI said that there is a need to “reawaken our consciences.” He asked Catholics to find “a way of living, a style of life that eases the problems caused to the environment.”

“I want to give impulse to rediscovering our responsibilities and to finding an ethical way to change our way of life and ways to respond to these great challenges,” the Pontiff added.

Hopes for WYD

When asked about his hopes for the World Youth Days, the Pope said that he considered the formula for the youth gatherings, begun by Pope John Paul II, still valid for current times.

Benedict XVI added that he is confident the event will help the youth to live a mature faith.

The Pope also commented on the decision of the general synod of the Church of England last week to allow the ordination of women bishops. The Holy Father assured his prayers for the participants of the The Lambeth conference, a 10-yearly meeting of the Anglican Communion, scheduled to begin Wednesday.

The Holy Father was accompanied aboard the papal flight by 72 passengers; 27 members of the papal entourage, 43 Vatican-accredited media personnel, 2 assistants.

This international trip is the ninth of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, and the second such international youth event he has presided at. The first was in Cologne, Germany, in 2005.

Itinerary

Benedict XVI will rest for three days at the Opus Dei-run Kenthurst Study Center, located northwest of Sydney.

He will move to Sydney’s cathedral house before embarking on an intense few days of meetings with young people.

The first papal public event will be a welcome ceremony at Sydney’s Government House Thursday, after which the Holy Father will visit the Blessed Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel.

In the afternoon the Pontiff will then board the ship “Sydney 2000” and travel by sea to Barangaroo East Darling Harbor, where the Pontiff will deliver his first address to the youth pilgrims.

The Pope will meet Friday with government leaders, and later participate in an ecumenical meeting in the crypt of St. Mary’s Cathedral. He will also meet with some 40 representatives of other religions.

On Saturday he will celebrate Mass with Australian bishops, seminarians and men and women religious novices, and consecrate the new altar, and in the afternoon the Holy Father will preside at the World Youth Day Vigil.

The weeklong event will culminate with an open-air Mass on July 20 at Randwick Racecourse. Some 500,000 people are expected to attend.