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Friday, July 11, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 11 JUL 2008 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. tomorrow, Benedict XVI is due to depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport bound for Sydney, Australia, thus beginning his ninth apostolic trip outside Italy.

  Following a flight of 13,269 kilometres lasting 15 hours and 45 minutes, the Pope's plane is due to land at Darwin in northern Australia. After a brief stopover, the flight will continue to Richmond airbase near Sydney, in the Australian state of New South Wales, where the Holy Father is expected to land at 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. in Rome) on Sunday 13 July.

  Descending from the aircraft, the Pope will be greeted on the tarmac by Kevin Rudd, prime minister of Australia, Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, and other civil and religious authorities. He will then travel by car to the Kenthurst Study Centre, a private house for retreats and formation belonging to the Prelature of Opus Dei, where he will spend the time privately until the evening of Wednesday 16 July.

  On the morning of Thursday 17 July, the Pope's visit to Australia will officially begin with the welcome ceremony in the presence of the authorities at Government House in Sydney, where he will deliver his first discourse. Following the ceremony he will travel to the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel for a moment of prayer, before moving on to Admiralty House for a meeting with the Australian prime minister.

  Early that afternoon the Pope will go to Rose Bay Quay in Sydney where he will be greeted with a display of traditional Aboriginal dances and songs. He will then board the vessel "Sydney 2000" and cross the bay to the city's Bangaroo East Darling Harbour where he will be welcomed by tens of thousands of young people.

  Events scheduled for Friday 18 July include an ecumenical meeting and an encounter with representatives of other religions in St. Mary's Cathedral of Sydney.

  The culminating moment of this apostolic trip to Oceania will be the prayer vigil and Mass to be presided by the Pope at Randwick Racecourse on Saturday 20 July and Sunday 21 July, in the presence of thousands of young people gathered from all over the world for 23rd World Youth Day.
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