A boat carrying Pope sails on Sydney Harbor A crowd of over 200,000 watch Pope seen on screen Catholic clergy listen as Pope addresses pilgrims Police hold back barricades as pilgrims try to catch a glimpse

Pope and Australian Governor General Sir Michael Jeffery receive a general salute Pope Benedict XVI flanked by youths aboard of Sydney 2000 vessel Pope Benedict XVI gestures to the thousands of pilgrims at Bangaroo Pope Benedict XVI inspects a guard of honor as part of World Youth Day

Pope Benedict XVI inspects a guard of honour during the ceremonial welcome Pope Benedict XVI inspects an Honor Guard at Government House Pope Benedict XVI is introduced by Cardinal George Pell pope prays at shrine at the mary mackillop memorial chapel

Pope Benedict XVI prays at the shrine Pope Benedict XVI raises his hands as he walks with Australian Governor General Pope Benedict XVI remarks as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd listens Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Pope Benedict XVI watches a group of aboriginal dancers Pope Benedict XVI waves after he arrives at Government House in Sydney Pope Benedict XVI waves as he inspects an Honor Guard Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leave Bangaroo after  World Youth Day

Pope Benedict XVI waves from his pope mobile as he arrives at Bangaroo Pope Benedict XVI waves from the stage as he arrives at Bangaroo Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims as he passes the Sydney Opera House Pope Benedict XVI waves while arriving at Bangaroo

Pope flanked by Cardinal George Pell greets pilgrims Pope is welcomed to Australia by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Pope leaving after World Youth Day The World Youth Day Cross is transported across Sydney Harbor

Thousands of pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI Youths walk with flags at the Barangaroo East Darling Harbour in Sydney. Pope Benedict XVI listens as Australian Prime Minister welcomes him Kevin Rudd,Wife and Pope

Pope embraces an aboriginal elder Pope  listens at St Marys Cathedral Crypt Pope signs visitors book at Admiralty House Youths pray near candles at St. Marys Cathedral

Sydney has never seen anything like it since the Olympics. Not even that event, however, could match the spectacle of a papal ‘boatacade’ gliding past the bridge and the opera house to deliver Pope Benedict into the cheering embrace of 200,000 young people from around the world.

The Pope’s arrival at World Youth Day had a theatrical quality worthy of the media world in which today’s young people live. By contrast, his message to them was delivered in a self-effacing, direct manner, making clear that the Pope refuses to cast himself as a rock star; he is a teacher and he set about teaching. The young listened with great respect, some closing their eyes, concentrating deeply on his words. He commended to them the care of the planet that he had flown over, inviting them to live by the values of truth, beauty and goodness as the way to heal the scars not only of our planet but also of our souls. Cries of delight erupted as the Pope concluded by greeting the different language groups. The final singing of the World Youth Day anthem, Receive the Power of the Holy Spirit, had the crowd in full voice, hands lifted high and swaying gently in time with the simple alleluia of the chorus, all nationalities united in one word and one gesture.

You would have to be hard hearted not to be moved by so many young people singing their hearts out affirming their acceptance of the Pope’s demanding invitation to follow Christ. Yet hard hearted is exactly the quality that has characterised the Australian media coverage leading up to the event. The city’s leading daily, the Sydney Morning Herald, has for weeks been pursuing an agenda highlighting the civic disruption, the cost to the taxpayer and a whole host of local concerns summed up in the headline ‘The Stations of the Very Cross.’ In parallel, the national TV channel, ABC, led a concerted attack on Cardinal Pell, with ‘Lateline’ (think Newsnight) running negative stories about his alleged mishandling of cases of clerical abuse. All the perpetrators had gone to jail but the Cardinal was still in the firing line from the victims or their families. Insensitive remarks by church spokesmen prolonged the agony. This coverage had become so negative by the weekend before the Pope’s arrival, that The Australian ran a leading article saying that the Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC were guilty of ‘squalid myopia’, urging Australians to be proud of hosting WYD in Sydney. Surprisingly, the BBC correspondent in Australia appears to be following the ABC agenda, so BBC reports are heavily weighted towards the clerical abuse agenda. Stunning images of joyful young people lining Sydney harbour were accompanied by a commentary on clerical abuse.

The Sydneysiders themselves have greeted the young with warmth and delight, so eventually the Sydney Morning Herald has run feel good headlines. But the experience of those of us simultaneously watching the events and the media is not just how different the reports are to the event. Rather, I am left with a feeling that while the young are full of energetic hope, bringing soul to one of the world’s great cities, the Australian hierarchy is struggling to cope with its detractors. The Pope will sail through this but how will the local church be when the Pope and the pilgrims have left? The youth will have been deeply affirmed in their faith, for sure, and I pray that the same will be true for the Australian Catholic Church.

The media in Australia, hate what they cannot control and influence. Media, the world over, know the press gives power. That is why the rich own papers and T.V stations. The press lose control when the faityhful gather at events like WYD. They press don’t set the adenda, and so they attack.

Generally the media is quite anti-Christianity, particularly  Catholics or Evangelicals. I don’t know if its secular institutional bias or market forces: sex sells! I mean who cares about the thousands in Burma, Zimbabwe or Iraq surviving on church provision? And true to form, the world-wide media have ignored this  WYD event. Google, had one, only one entry on this event, and it led with the BBC lead line about clerical abuse.

Seems no one wants to hear “good news” these days. Maybe because the “Good News” is counter-cultural.