Didgeridoo welcome for pope at WYD

Elders from Sydney's Gadigal indigenous community will be the first to welcome Pope Benedict when he arrives in Sydney for World Youth Day in July.

The announcement was made in Sydney yesterday by Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders and WYD coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher.

Bishop Saunders who took a turn on a traditional didgeridoo later conceded that playing the instrument is harder than it looks.

WYD organisers also unveiled a number of bright red vestments which will be worn throughout the five day event, from July 15-20.

"The vestments have Marjorie's bird - an indigenous representation of the Holy Spirit - on the back, and the Southern Cross, which stands in the sky of this continent and makes of it a great spiritual homeland, a great natural cathedral," Bishop Fisher said.

"They have been approved by the Vatican to be worn by all the cardinals, archbishops and bishops who will be celebrating at the Masses and also . . . we have every reason to believe, by the Holy Father himself."

Aboriginal elder Elsie Heiss, who spoke, said a 17 person advisory committee had worked with WYD organisers for two years to ensure one of the strongest collaborations between the Catholic Church and the indigenous community in Australia's history.

"We welcome Pope Benedict and the many young Catholics coming here to celebrate their faith on this land," Ms Heiss said in a WYD media statement.

As of last year's Census, there were 101,102 Catholic indigenous Australians, accounting for 22.2 per cent of the population.

Graeme Mundine, of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission, said they were looking forward to being the first to greet the Pope.


Indigenous welcome for World Youth Day Sydney 2008 pilgrims (World Youth Day, Media Release, 17/4/08)

Didgeridoo welcome as Pope blows in (Daily Telegraph, 18/4/08)

Aborigines to welcome Pope Benedict (The Age, 18/4/08)


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