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Pope thanks volunteers, leaves Aust (w. WYD stats)

Please find today’s WYD08 RELEASE attached, overview below:

Pope Benedict XVI thanks volunteers and leaves Australia happy and blessed
Final statistics revealed

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI thanked 8,000 World Youth Day volunteers and attended a special farewell ceremony at Sydney International Airport before departing Australia for Rome today.

The Holy Father paused briefly for a final wave to the crowd including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, before entering the Qantas Boeing 747 for the 21-hour journey home.

Earlier this morning, the Pope arrived at the Domain in his Popemobile to give thanks to WYD08 Ambassadors Carla Zampatti, Amelia Farrugia, the Delezio family, Stephen Moore, Jared Crouch, Jimmy Little and Dr John Herron and the WYD08 volunteers.

Performers Guy Sebastian and Paulini performed for the crowd and special guests Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell, National Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, members of the Papal entourage and Stations of the Cross actors Alfio Stuto (Jesus) and Marina Dixon (Mary).

With WYD08 coming to an end, WYD08 Coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher OP reflected today on Sydney’s achievements as host city.

“This week the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit has welcomed with open arms 223,000 pilgrims – including over 110,000 from 170 nations.

“We’ve accommodated 120,000 pilgrims in our schools, parishes, homes and other venues and served 3.5 million meals across around 400 venues.

“Although only a week in duration, World Youth Day will resonate in Australian hearts for a long time to come and will forever be remembered in the lives of the young pilgrims,”said Bishop Fisher.

Shortly after the Pope’s departure Cardinal Pell proudly commended the week’s activities.

“The event was seamless and for that I give thanks to the people of Sydney and Australia, and to all those who contributed to this magnificent international celebration of youth and faith,” said Cardinal Pell.

“His Holiness has expressed his warm gratitude to the people of Sydney, the Australian Catholic Church, State and Federal Governments, WYD08 staff, volunteers and all others who contributed to this magnificent event.”

Earlier this morning, His Holiness attended a private meeting with a small group of Australians who have been victims of sexual abuse by some clergy.

The Professional Standards Office of New South Wales nominated four victims to meet the Holy Father after a private Mass with him.

“The Holy Father's meeting this morning further reinforces the Church’s commitment to bringing healing and justice to those who have been so terribly hurt by sexual abuse.” said Cardinal Pell.



• 70,000 international pilgrims took part in Days of the Diocese throughout Australia during the week before WYD08
• 150,000 attended the Opening Mass at Barangaroo and CBD sites
• In excess of 400,000 people attended the Final Mass at Southern Cross Precinct
• 500,000 people came out to welcome His Holiness on Thursday 17 July on the Boat-a-cade, Official Arrival at Barangaroo and Motorcade
• 223,000 people registered for pilgrim services during WYD08 (110,000 international pilgrims + 113,000 local pilgrims)
• Over 170 nations were represented at World Youth Day Sydney 2008
• 168 international flags took part in the Procession of Flags at the WYD08 Opening Mass


• WYD08 events were watched live by an estimated international TV audience of 500 million, with TV and internet audiences combined reaching 1 billion
•, the WYD08 official online social networking site, is expected to attract 225,000 pilgrims as a result of the event
• The World Youth Day website received over 500,000 unique users from Saturday 12 July to Sunday 20th July with the biggest spike in hits occurring Thursday 17th July.
• WYD08 online streaming received over 250,000 visits during the event period, watching events live all around the world
• Top countries watching online streaming included USA, UK, Italy, Canada, Spain and Germany
• There were 2,000 accredited media for WYD08


• 450 Youth Festival events took place during the week from Tuesday to Sunday in over 100 venues
• 30 large national gatherings took place during WYD08
• 134 international pilgrims from 58 countries were part of the International Liturgy Group (ILG), as well as a representative from each Australian State and Territory. The ILG undertook the main duties of the liturgies including readings, offertory procession, altar servers, testimonials, flag bearers.
• In Terrey Hills, more than 350 cardinals and bishops from overseas enjoyed a lunch hosted by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell.
• An average of 2,500 pilgrims walked through the Vocations Expo every hour
• Catechesis was delivered at 235 locations across Sydney in 29 different languages
• The WYD08 Choir consisted of 300 members, the WYD08 Orchestra was an 80 piece orchestra
• 1,000 priests heard confession during the WYD08 week


• Once the Journey of the Cross and Icon reached Wollongong for the 15 Day walk, it had travelled nearly 80,000km around Australia
• The Cross and Icon visited over 400 Australian communities during the 12 month pilgrimage around Australia
• Nearly 400,000 people touched the Cross throughout Australia
• The WYD Cross is 3.8m high and 1.75m wide, weighing some 40 kilograms
• The WYD Icon is 118cm high and 79cm wide, weighing some 15 kilogram
• 4,000 pilgrims took part in the final day of the Journey of the Cross and Icon on Monday 14th July when it travelled on a Manly Ferry before being walked through central Sydney


• 6,000 blankets were donated by Qantas to pilgrims from across Oceania
• 37 lucky Burmese pilgrims overcame VISA difficulties to finally make it to Sydney for WYD08
• At the WYD Big Aussie BBQ, 220,000 slices of bread were consumed – if laid end to end, it would cover the Sydney Harbour Bridge 21 times
• 100,000 pilgrims slept in 400 schools and parishes
• Over 12,000 pilgrims stayed in Sydney Olympic Park throughout the week
• 40,000 were billeted as part of the WYD08 HomeStay program


• The Pope’s flight to Sydney took 19 hours and 45 minutes
• The Pope’s flight home will take 21 hours
• From Rome the flight travelled a total distance of 16,500 kilometres
• The Pope will fly back to Rome on a Qantas flight, stopping off Darwin for a brief refuelling
• The Pope sent six daily inspirational text messages
• The Pope met six native Australian animals from Taronga Zoo when in Kenthurst - a wallaby, koala, python, lizard, baby crocodile and an echidna
• 12 lucky young people lunched with the Pope on Friday 18 July. This included Australians Craig Ashby from Sydney and Teresa Wilson from Melbourne
• 24 people were confirmed by the Pope at the Final Mass including 14 young Australians and 10 international young people
• The Pope lunched with 50 current and retired Australian Bishops in St Mary’s Cathedral House
• The Pope kissed four small children during his Motorcades


• 8,000 WYD08 volunteers assisted during WYD08
• His Holiness held a special event to specifically thank the volunteers at the Domain prior to his departure


• There were 4,000 priests and deacons, 420 Bishops, 26 Cardinals and one Pope present at WYD08
• 500 special WYD08 chasubles for the Bishops and Cardinals were made
• 4,000 stoles were made for the priests
• 1.1 million communion hosts were made for the WYD08 Masses


• 25 million food items were ordered for WYD08
• 3.6 million meals were distributed across approximately 400 venues during the week
• 215,000 meat pies, 360,000 lamingtons and 100,000 litres of Dairy Farmers Milk were consumed


• 400,000 people attended the Final Mass at Randwick Racecourse and Centennial Park
• 235,000 faithful attended the night time Vigil at Randwick Racecourse.
• Over 200,000 pilgrims camped at Randwick Racecourse overnight in anticipation of the Final Mass
• 232,000 candles were used during WYD08
• 100 actors took part in the Stations of the Cross performance
• 4000 toilets were in use at the Southern Cross Precinct


 World Youth Day Ambassadors were:

- Carla Zampatti - leading Australian fashion designer
- Jared Crouch - Sydney Swans Footballer
- The Delezio Family – Ron, Carolyn, Mitchell and Sophie
- Matthew Hayden - Australian Cricketer
- Amelia Farrugia - Australian Opera singer
- Mark Bresciano - Australian Socceroo
- Stephen Moore - Australian Wallaby
- Jimmy Little - Indigenous Australian musician
- Dr John Herron - Chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs

- WYD08 Corporate Affilliates included: Qantas, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Catholic Church Insurances Limited, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Mercedes-Benz, Telstra, The Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph, Harvest Youth Tours, Arnotts, Tip Top, Coca-Cola Amatil and Accor Hospitality, Captain Cook Cruises BridgeClimb, Taronga Zoo, The Catholic Weekly, Avis, Cadbury, Cerebos Foods, Dairy Farmers, Mrs Mac's, Sanitarium, Schenker, SACL, Safcol, Moore Stephens

- There were 10 World Youth Day Patrons including: St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Faustina Kowalska, St Maria Goretti, St Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, Blessed Mary MacKillop, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, John Paul II, Our Lady of the Southern Cross


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