Pope to Ballina?

The northern New South Wales town of Ballina is buzzing with rumours that Pope Benedict may spend his three day break there prior to World Youth Day.

The Northern Star reports a friend of Pope Benedict, Vienna Cardinal Christophe Schonborn will also be staying in the Ballina parish during World Youth Day celebrations.

Cardinal Schönborn will visit Ballina with 43 young Austrians taking part in World Youth Day.

Although the Pope is scheduled to be in Sydney for his visit, there is a three day gap in the program for the Pope to rest, and that is when it is believed the Holy Father may make the trip to the North Coast.

The Catholic Diocese of Lismore could not confirm if the Pope was planning a whirlwind visit to Ballina as part of the World Youth Day celebrations next month, but the rumour has everybody talking.

Catholic Diocese of Lismore World Youth Day 2008 executive officer Adam Sullivan said it would be a big deal for local Catholics if the Pope did visit Ballina.

"He has three days rest somewhere and they haven't confirmed anything about that," Mr Sullivan said. "I would presume he would stay in Sydney for his break, but no one really knows."

Ballina Shire Council tourism manager Liz Shepherd said she hadn't heard the Pope would be coming to the coast.

"If he was coming he would probably stay with a friend or a relative and it would be all kept very low key from a security perspective," she said.

Ballina mayor Phillip Silver said it would be a pleasure and an honour for the town if the Pope made the trip.

"But it is the first I've heard of the Holy Father himself coming to town.


Rumors rife Pope could pay Ballina a visit (Northern Star, 19/6/08)


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