A fair dinkum Pope
Thu, 24 Jul 2008
In the wash-up to this remarkable gathering, perhaps aided and abetted by the sort of relaxed friendliness and ambience that so becomes our Australian cousins, it is being said that in Sydney the Pope began, finally, to reveal the hallmarks of his papacy.
To date, he has been, possibly unfairly, characterised by the most pronounced public qualities of his former self: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a cool and austere intellectual German theologian - and an arch-conservative one at that.
But in the company of so many tens of thousands of smiling young pilgrims, and blessed by five days of clement Sydney winter sun, he reportedly showed a sense of humour and common humanity, allied to a genuine personal warmth. There were even flashes of charisma.
In the vernacular of the land, the Pope seemed to become, if not a superstar, a fair dinkum good bloke.
But World Youth Day 2008 was not simply a prayer party. There were serious matters for the Pontiff to attend to, not least the legacy of sexual abuse which he has inherited. Such "misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation", he said. the rest