Pope in the open for Last Supper

Against the advice of police, Pope Benedict will stand in the open on the steps of Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral during the Last Supper reenactment of one of World Youth Day's highlighted events, the Stations of the Cross.

Both the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald report the Vatican has rejected security advice to remain quiet about the plan for fear of a possible assassination attempt against the pontiff's life. The increased concerns come after Pope Benedict was mentioned in Osama bin Laden's latest audio message earlier this year.

A World Youth Day spokeswoman would not comment on the Pope's security.

The Vatican's announcement comes after the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies yesterday announced it had "some serious concerns" about certain Stations of the Cross scenes scheduled to be staged across Sydney on July 18, two days before the massive papal mass at Randwick Racecourse.

Fears that some of the scenes could give rise to anti-Semitic feelings have already been discussed at length by the church and the board of deputies. In response, the church has reduced the stations of the cross to eight from 14, yet the board of deputies remains concerned about the event plans.

"We've accommodated them where appropriate, but we're unable to change the New Testament," a World Youth Day spokesman said.

"Ultimately, we're acknowledging that Christ was crucified for and by all sinners."

The re-enactment of the last supper, to be attended by the Pope on the steps of St Mary's Cathedral, will show Jesus, Judas and the apostles sitting at a long covered table laden with food andwine.

The Pope will read a prayer, and then lead the pilgrims in a recitation of "Our Father", before descending to the crypt of St Mary's to watch the remaining stations of the cross on television.

 Fly over for pilgrims

Pope Benedict will flyover Centennial Park and Randwick Racecourse in a helicopter before celebrating Mass for 500,000 pilgrims at the pinnacle event of Sydney's World Youth Day in July.The Vatican released the pontiff's official WYD itinerary for his visit between July 13 and 20.

It shows a packed schedule after a few days of rest, including meetings with disadvantaged youth and state and federal leaders.

WYD organiser Bishop Anthony Fisher said the Pope had requested meetings with young people in order to "connect with the full range of Australian youth and the youth of the world".

"His Holiness has a very full schedule on his first visit to Australia," Bishop Fisher said in a statement.

"As a head of state, he will also be conducting several official meetings with civic leaders."

Pope Benedict arrives at Richmond RAAF base, west of Sydney, on Sunday, July 13.

He will rest for several days at a secret location before his official welcome on Sydney Harbour and at Barangaroo, north of Darling Harbour, on Thursday, July 17.

As part of his itinerary, the Pope will meet with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Governor-General Major General Michael Jeffery, NSW Governor Marie Bashir and NSW Premier Morris Iemma.


Security advice on Pope Benedict XVI for World Youth Day rejectedral (The Australian, 30/5/08)

Grand Papal entrance for Sydney mass (Sydney Morning Herald, 30/5/08)

Pope to officiate at cathedral event (Sydney Morning Herald, 30/5/08)

Pope's portrait damaged in shoot-out (Trinidad Express, 28/5/08)


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