The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - April 11

Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit Australia in 2008 to take part in a Roman Catholic youth gathering, the Australian bishop organising the event says. Assistant Bishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher, quoted by official Vatican media, says the Pope has confirmed his intention to visit Australia for the July 2008 World Youth Day celebrations. The celebrations will be held in Sydney.

Pope Benedict has officially launched preparations for the event, which was initiated by his predecessor John Paul II and is held every three years, at a Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Square in Rome. At the service, young people from Germany handed over to those from Australia a large wooden cross to take to Sydney. The Pope says their journey will symbolise their attempt to spread peace "across continents and cultures, across a world lacerated and tormented by violence".

World Youth Day is expected to attract 500,000 young people, including 30,000 pilgrims from overseas.