By Catholic News Service
SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) – The Catholic Church in Australia and organizers of World Youth Day in Sydney have identified a "serene, beautiful and suitable" place in Australia for Pope Benedict XVI to rest for three full days in July before joining the youth gathering.
While refusing to identify the place for reasons of privacy and security, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher, World Youth Day coordinator, said the pope would have "the opportunity to see some of Australia's beautiful flora and fauna."
Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, assistant director of the Vatican press office, said May 2 the place chosen was near Sydney.
Pope Benedict will leave Rome July 12, stop briefly in Darwin, Australia, July 13 for refueling, then proceed to Sydney, Father Benedettini said.
The pope will spend July 14-16 resting and recovering from jet lag, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
Pope Benedict will be involved in World Youth Day activities July 17-20 and will leave Sydney July 21.
Father Lombardi said the "three days of rest, without doing absolutely anything," would allow the 81-year-old pope to absorb the effects of the trip from Rome, which crosses nine time zones. The total flight time is expected to be about 20 hours.
Rest days are not unprecedented in papal travel. In 2002, when Pope John Paul II went to Toronto for World Youth Day, he spent most of the first four days after his arrival relaxing at an island retreat center.
The refueling stop in Darwin is the only stop planned on the way to Sydney, Father Benedettini said.
In late April, the World Youth Day organizers said nearly 123,000 young people had already registered to participate in the July 15-20 gathering. They are scheduled to welcome Pope Benedict July 17.
The papal welcome will include a greeting from local indigenous leaders and "a colorful reception with flags from all over the world," organizers said. In the afternoon, the pope will take a cruise in Sydney Harbor, disembarking at Barangaroo, where he will address the pilgrims.
The detailed program for the pope's visit was expected to be released in June.
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Contributing to this story were Dan McAloon in Sydney and John Thavis at the Vatican.
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