Pope set to come, trainers to sue over WYD

Calling it a time of "deep spiritual renewal", Pope Benedict yesterday confirmed that he will attend World Youth Day in Sydney next July but trainers at Randwick racecourse are set to take legal action to stop the event being held there.

Addressing yesterday's General Audience, Pope Benedict said that World Youth Day is "not just an event, but a time of profound spiritual renewal, which will be of benefit to all society.

Benedict encouraged the young people "to prepare well for this marvelous celebration of the faith. ... Enter fully into the life of your parishes and participate enthusiastically in diocesan events! In this way you will be equipped spiritually to experience new depths of understanding of all that we believe when we gather in Sydney next July."

"I have noted that against the wave of secularism, many young people are rediscovering the satisfying quest for authentic beauty, goodness and truth," the pope said according to a Catholic News Agency report.

"Some of you have friends with little real purpose in their lives, perhaps caught up in a futile search for endless new experiences. Bring them to World Youth Day too! In fact, I have noticed that against the tide of secularism many young people are rediscovering the satisfying quest for authentic beauty, goodness and truth. Through your witness you help them in their search for the Spirit of God."

"Through your testimony, help them in their search for the Spirit of God. Be courageous in this witness; commit yourselves to spreading the light of Christ, who makes an invitation for all of life, making it possible for each one to have permanent joy and happiness."

"I know that already the ecclesial and government authorities, together with numerous young Australians, are working very hard to ensure an exceptional experience for us all. I offer them my heartfelt thanks," the pope said.

Howard backs World Youth Day

Referring to possible terrorist threats, Prime Minister John Howard said Australia should not be deterred from hosting major events such as the APEC summit or World Youth Day despite growing fears of targeted attacks by terrorists.

"We can't stop doing things because we fear there might be a terrorist attack, if we do that they've won," he said.

"We've got APEC coming up and then next year we'll have the massive Catholic Youth Day, it's the largest gathering of young people probably anywhere in the world and that's going to be held in Sydney," he said.

Mr Howard said such events were integral to life in free, democratic countries.

"We have a whole number of events in our calender which involve vast congregations of people ... that's part of our life that's part of what western democratic freedoms demonstrate to the world and we have to keep doing those," he said, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

Trainers set to sue

But Randwick trainers are set to take legal action in a bid to stop the papal Mass at racing headquarters next year, the Herald says.

The attempt to prevent the Pope's World Youth Day celebrations from going ahead has the support of the NSW Racehorse Trainers' Association and Aushorse, which is made up of the country's most powerful thoroughbred studs.

Trainers based at Randwick held a meeting yesterday morning which was addressed by Tony Fleighter from Macquarie Legal Practice. The trainers' representative on the Racing NSW board, the state regulator Phillip Esplin, was in attendance, while newly elected Australian Jockey Club chairman Ross Smyth-Kirk was informed of the unanimous vote to explore all legal action.

"It has been suggested to us the AJC chairman would be acting outside his charter to sign a document that would host another enterprise to the exclusion of racing and training at Randwick," Randwick Trainers' Association president Anthony Cummings told the Herald last night.

"We have asked for a further legal examination of that and we will see if it is accurate and/or accountable. All the trainers at Randwick are disappointed in the way this has gone ahead. We are disappointed in the State Government and Catholic Church's knowledge of the process of racing and training at Randwick.

"How are we going to explain how it works when they plainly don't understand how it works?"

It emerged last week that Randwick racecourse will be shut down for upwards of 10 weeks to set up Pope Benedict's visit , with the tracks, 650-odd horses and around 25 trainers forced to evacuate the complex.

A "heads of agreement" between the AJC and the World Youth Day Co-ordinating Authority, with the support of the NSW Government, was due to be signed last week. Randwick trainers, along with third parties made up of farriers, feed merchants, veterinarians and others, subsequently raised concerns their businesses could be ruined due to a lack of compensation.

"All parties at Randwick are disappointed in the way this has been handled," Cummings said. "Generally speaking, there might be compensation, but they are unaware of the fact compensation is unlikely to be what is required."

Cummings wasn't about to name a compensation figure, with reports predicting between $12 million and $50 million during the past couple of days. The WYDCA has described those involved as "opportunists".

"Rather than be seen as opportunistic and a grab for money, we'd rather see them take it somewhere else and let someone else take advantage of that opportunity," Cummings said.

Cummings believed it was "pretty rude" to suggest trainers and "third parties" were seeking upwards of $50 million, as "that is plainly misleading", while adding no one "should be going down that path".

"The fact is, when it was first mentioned, we were told we might not be able to use the training tracks at Randwick for three days," Cummings said. "Now it is 10 weeks … it wasn't until 10 days ago we knew that we would be off the track for 10 weeks, so to come along and say we are opportunists is at best rude."

Smyth-Kirk said he was aware trainers had sought legal advice. "I just hope reason prevails," he said. "There has been a whole lot of things being said and at the the moment, it's a little counter-productive. It's a complicated process, but at all times the AJC has had the participants' interests at the top of discussions.

"I had a meeting with the Premier's office today. It was a meeting with the Deputy Premier, John Watkins, and John Della Bosca and it was quite a productive meeting.

"We covered everything. The thing is going to go ahead, and it is going to go ahead at Randwick. The Government has enough power to make sure that happens.

"The Government were showing they understood the situation and were working on making sure everyone concerned is given the compensation they are entitled to. Whether that is enough for the more militant persons involved remains to be seen."

Trainers' legal challenge over papal visit (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/7/07)
Pope confirms Australia visit in July 2008 for World Youth Day (International Herald Tribune, 4/7/07)
Pope: spread charity to contribute to a more just world in solidarity (AsiaNews, 4/7/07)
Pope encourages youth and tells them to bring their lost friends to World Youth Day (Catholic News Agency, 4/7/07)
Arrest prompts APEC security review (The Age, 5/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day 2008
Australian Jockey Club

WYD Cross arrives amid Randwick turmoil (CathNews, 2/7/07)
Randwick trainers "emotional" over WYD compensation (CathNews, 29/6/07)
Trainers still jumpy about WYD (CathNews, 26/6/07)
Guy's WYD song to welcome cross and icon (CathNews, 25/6/07)
US leads Australia in WYD registrations (CathNews, 15/5/07)
Aussie idol to sing WYD theme song (CathNews, 14/5/07)
Give young people WYD opportunities, nuncio says (CathNews, 11/5/07)
Sydney airport can't handle all WYD visitors, Pell says (CathNews, 2/5/07)
Thousands already on way to WYD (CathNews, 30/4/07)
Trainers seek $12 million compo over Benedict's WYD visit (CathNews, 23/4/07)
Telstra chief signs on for WYD (CathNews, 20/4/07)
Tsunami town welcomes WYD cross (CathNews, 19/4/07)
WYD Cross to visit tsunami-hit Gizo (CathNews, 5/4/07)
WYD Cross at N Korea border (CathNews, 1/3/07)
Race industry fears over WYD "chaos" (CathNews, 19/3/07)
Canberra parish launches live-in WYD community (CathNews, 6/3/07)
Free tourist visas for WYD participants (CathNews, 5/3/07)
500,000 crosses for WYD (CathNews, 2/3/07)

Way of the Cross (North Shore Times, 4/7/07)

5 Jul 2007