Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pope Benedict arrived in Sydney

Pope Benedict XVI has touched down in Sydney ahead of World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations, shaking hands with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as he was welcomed to Australia for the first time.

Dressed in his customary white robes and red shoes, the 81-year-old Pontiff was applauded as he stepped onto the tarmac at Richmond RAAF base, on Sydney's north-western outskirts, shortly after the plane landed at 3pm (AEST).

Smiling warmly, Pope Benedict extended both hands to Mr Rudd and the pair exchanged greetings.

He was then welcomed by a representative of the office of the Governor General, before shaking hands with NSW Premier Morris Iemma and other officials.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Australia, Sydney Archbishop George Pell, kissed the Pope's ring and shook his hand before other church leaders followed suit, some genuflecting.

After the low-key welcome, the Pontiff was briefly ushered inside a building at the RAAF base, flanked by Mr Rudd, for what commentators described as a "meet and greet" session with members of the clergy.

His motorcade, including ambulances, buses and police cars, left the base just before 3.30pm, bound for an Opus Dei-run study centre at Kenthurst.

He will spend four nights at the tightly-guarded centre, where he is expected to play the piano and relax before officially joining the WYD program in a spectacular "Boat-a-cade" on Sydney Harbour on Thursday.

The Boeing 777 carrying the Pope had earlier refuelled in Darwin, and reportedly circled Dubbo, in central western NSW, to allow it to land at Richmond on schedule.

The Alitalia plane, which displayed the Australian flag and the Papal flag, also carried Vatican officials, the Pope's security detail and 44 reporters.
Yahoo 7 news


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