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Australians unite to mark Pope's passing

Friday's papal funeral drew many Australians together, with the ceremony from St Peter's Square being telecast live on large screens in Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral, where an specially organised gathering focused on the Holy Father's special relationship with the young.

Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous said Cardinal George Pell had phoned him from Rome to urge that young people be specially invited to the event.

"John Paul II had great rapport with young people," Bishop Porteous said. "This is an opportunity for them to celebrate his life and witness to his impact on the world and on their lives."

In Adelaide, thousands of children swelled the numbers of the 14,000 attending an Adelaide Oval memorial service.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann told those gathered that Pope John Paul II was the Pope who reached out to other faiths.

"It was this Pope who apologised to Jews for past wrongs, who worshipped in both the synagogue and the mosque," Mr Rann said.

The head of the Anglican church in Australia, Perth Archbishop Peter Carnley, said great strides were also made in unifying the different strands of the Christian faith during the Pope's pontificate.

"The last quarter century will go down in history as a time of significant progress, despite occasional difficulties in the arduous journey to Christian unity," Dr Carnley said.

Perth's Catholic Archbishop, Barry Hickey, was to conduct a Solemn Requiem Mass to be open to the public tonight in St Mary's Cathedral.

Western Australia's religious and secular leaders, including Premier Geoff Gallop and WA governor Lieutenant-general John Sanderson, attended a separate mass last night.

Prime Minister John Howard also paid tribute to John Paul II on Friday, calling him a great spiritual leader of the Catholic Church and of all Christendom and a significant figure in the fall of Soviet Communism.

Mr Howard said in personal meetings he found the pontiff to be a great character, with a sparkling sense of humour, but also very tough and full of conviction.

"One of the things that was admirable about him was that he wasn't going to be suborned by what he regarded as fashion and passing fads," Mr Howard said. "He was going to cling tenaciously to what he thought was right and that is always an admirable quality in somebody and certainly in a Pope."

Australians unite to mark Pope's passing ( Associated Press 8/4/05)
City of Churches heads local tributes (The Australian 9/4/05)
Cardinal Clancy watches funeral from Australia (ABC Radio PM 8/4/05)
City's young farewell the rock'n'roll pontiff JP2 (Sydney Morning Herald 9/4/05)

11 Apr 2005