Premier Bracks invites Pope to Melbourne
Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart and Cardinal George Pell are lobbying the Vatican for a Melbourne stop during the Pope's visit to Australia for the World Youth Day celebrations in 2008.
The Sunday Herald-Sun reported yesterday that the visit would be part of a campaign to try to "rejuvenate religion in Australia".
The Holy Father will be asked to hold Mass before more than 100,000 people at the MCG should he accept the Victorian Government's invitation.
There could also be a street parade through the CBD to give Victoria's 1.3 million Catholics the opportunity to greet the Pope.
In a letter to the Vatican, Mr Bracks said that Victoria would be honoured by a visit from His Holiness. It would be only the fourth papal visit to the State.
"Victorian Catholics remember with great fondness the visit of His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1986 and the Mass he celebrated before a capacity congregation at the Melbourne Cricket Ground," Mr Bracks said in the letter.
This week he said it would be "fantastic" for Victoria if Pope Benedict XVI agreed to visit.
"I'm sure the MCG will again be full to overflowing," he said.
"I will also host an official reception in his honour which will provide a valuable opportunity for a cross-section of the Victorian community to welcome His Holiness warmly.
"What a great thing - the renovated MCG, the Pope, 100,000 people, the sight, the sound - it will be magnificent. We would also provide an opportunity for people to line the streets to the MCG so those who can't get can in can see the Pope."
Archbishop Hart said that securing a visit by the Pope would be a huge coup for Victorian Catholics and a boost for the church.
"Melbourne is the biggest archdiocese in Australia and Oceania and it would be a great joy to me and all Catholics if he visits," he said.
Cardinal Pell said that he was keen for the Pope to visit Melbourne.
"If there were some good reason to convince the Holy Father to come to Melbourne, I think it would be a good idea," he said. "I'd be happy to co-operate and, if there is anything I can do to facilitate it, I will."
World Youth Day in Sydney should draw between 800,000 and a million young Catholics from across the world. Up to 300,000 of those would be expected to come to Melbourne if the Pope agrees to visit.
Bracks' Pope bid (Sunday Herald-Sun 9/10/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day (Archdiocese of Sydney)
Archdiocese of Melbourne
Pell hope to entice Pope to Melbourne (CathNews 5/9/05)
The Pope has been invited to visit the Australian city of Melbourne (Radio Australia 9/10/05)
Bracks bid for Pope visit (Sunday Herald-Sun 9/10/05)
10 Oct 2005