WYD Cross arrives amid Randwick turmoil

The Prime Minister and NSW Premier have joined hundreds of young Australians in welcoming to Australia the arrival of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon yesterday amid continued conflict over the Randwick venue for the youth event's final Mass next year.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that hundreds of clergy and other representatives from Australia and New Zealand's Catholic and indigenous communities gathered inside a Qantas aeroplane hangar at Sydney Airport to welcome the arrival of the Cross and Icon from New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Howard, Premier Morris Iemma, and hundreds of Australian youth, clergy and laity welcomed the 3.8m cross and the icon portraying Jesus and his Mother Mary.

Among those to welcome the cross yesterday was six year old multiple accident victim, Sophie Delezio, who was among the first Australians to witness the Sydney arrival of a cross symbolising World Youth Day.

The Delezio family joined World Youth Day delegates at Mary MacKillop Chapel, North Sydney, for a service before the cross and icon were carried across the Harbour Bridge to Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour.

"The Cross and the Icon (are) a reminder that next year World Youth Day will be a magnificent opportunity for the young in their thousands, not only from Australia, but around the world, to reaffirm their faith and to remind the world and to remind this nation of the enduring relevance and resonance about the Christian message," Mr Howard told the gathering.

"It's an occasion not only for Catholics, but for all who profess the Christian faith and the Christian belief, to celebrate the marvellous message of the Christian religion and its continuing importance to our country and the life of all of its citizens."

NSW Premier Morris Iemma told the gathering Sydney would once again host a worldwide event and that for one week it would upstage Rome as the focus for Catholics.

"The eyes of the world will once again be on Sydney, as it was for the 2000 Olympics and it will be for APEC," Mr Iemma told the audience.

"For the few shining days the heart and focus of international Catholicism will not be Rome, (it) will be Sydney."

Security personnel, including bomb sniffer dogs, were on high alert following failed terrorist attacks in London and Scotland.

The cross and 15kg icon, which is a copy of the ancient painting Salus Populi Romani, arrived from New Zealand aboard a Qantas Boeing 767 which parked inside the hangar.

The cross and icon will now begin a 12-month tour of Australia which will culminate with World Youth Day in Sydney next July when Pope Benedict XVI is expected to make his first visit to Australia.

The symbols of World Youth Day will be accompanied by an Aboriginal message stick inviting indigenous Australians to become World Youth Day pilgrims.

Randwick conflict boils on

But the Church was last night showing no signs of buckling to calls to compensate the racing industry for the right to transform Randwick Racecourse into Australia's biggest outdoor cathedral.

An alternative financial benefactor may have to be found if key interested parties - including the Australian Jockey Club, Racing NSW, course trainers and Tabcorp - insist on compensation for disruptions during preparations for the spring carnival and Melbourne Cup.

World Youth Day 2008 will run from 15 July, culminating in a Saturday night vigil and Sunday Mass at the racecourse that will be presided over by the Pope.

The Herald says the Church has offered to trade permanent improvements to the racetrack, including the laying of optic cables and improvements to power, water and sewage facilities, for its right to use the racecourse for 10 weeks. But it has made clear it has not the capacity to make "substantial" payments for compensation beyond funds originally set aside to cover the cost of protecting the track. The church is budgeting to spend at least $100 million on the event. It says no formal compensation claim has been made.

Jockey Club officials and racecourse trainers are to meet again today to discuss the impact of disruptions - assessed at $40 million - which include rescheduling three race meetings.

The co-ordinator of World Youth Day, Bishop Anthony Fisher, ruled out shifting the Papal Mass at which 500,000 pilgrims will gather, to the Olympic site, which was originally the Government's preferred venue.

"Everybody agrees it's the best site in Sydney," he said.

World Youth Day cross arrives (The Australian, 2/7/07)
Youth event too big a cross for racing industry to bear (Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/07)
John Howard welcomes Youth Day icons (The Age, 2/7/07)
Sophie hails Catholic icons (Daily Telegraph, 2/7/07)
Youth Day symbols cross Tasman (Newstalk, NZ, 2/7/07)
Cross arrives for World Youth Day (2GB News, 1/7/07)
Crossing the Tasman on the final leg of its journey (Sydney Morning Herald, 1/7/07)
Negotiations ongoing for Papal mass: AJC (The Age, 1/7/07)
AJC bans Pope for youth visit (Daily Telegraph, 1/7/07)
World Youth Day to cost racing (2GB News, 30/6/07)
New AJC chairman anoints himself as racing's saviour (Sydney Morning Herald, 30/6/07)
Send the plate around for Randwick's battler (Sydney Morning Herald, 30/6/07)

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

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)

2 Jul 2007