SYDNEY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict celebrated the final open-air Mass of World Youth Day on Sunday in Sydney before hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims, ending the Catholic Church’s largest youth festival, which ran July 15-20.
Here are some facts about the WYD final Mass and the Catholic Church in Australia.
* Up to 300,000 young pilgrims gathered at Sydney’s Randwick horse racing track to hear the 81-year-old pontiff conduct Mass.
* 3,000 priests, 420 bishops and 26 cardinals attended the final WYD Mass.
* Pope Benedict and scores of clergy gave communion to thousands of young pilgrims, using 600 chalices and 1,300 cibora — bowls holding communion host, or wafers — each holding 250.
* Pilgrims came from more than 170 nations and the prayers of the faithful were read in six languages: English, German, Sudanese, Polish, Vietnamese and Arabic.
* Twenty four people, 12 women and 12 men, selected from Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Oceania, were confirmed during the mass. Being confirmed is part of the initiation process into the Catholic Church.
* The Catholic Church hopes World Youth Day, the brainchild of the late Pope John Paul II, will revitalize the world’s young Catholics at a time when the cult of the individual and consumerism has become big distractions in their daily lives.
* WYD has been called the Church’s version of Woodstock, five days and nights of peace, love and Christianity. More than 165 concerts have been staged, from religious music to heavy metal, acid jazz, and rap, along with mass confessionals and pray meetings.
* The Catholic Church has 1.1 billion members worldwide. Some 5 million Australians describe themselves as Catholic, but less than one million attend Sunday mass and the number may have dropped to about 100,000 in the past 5 years.
* Pope Benedict announced that the next WYD will be held in Madrid in Spain in 2011.
Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Alex Richardson