Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Getting ready for the Pope

By EMERY BARCS 1970-6-12

A LOT of work on two levels ecclesiastic and secular -- will go into preparing the two-day visit of Pope Paul VI to Sydney next November. For the Pope is not only the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church with some 300 million members but he is also head of the Vatican State which despite its tiny area (.16 square miles) has all the right and privileges of any other sovereign country. Most of the preparations will be negotiated by the Vatican's representative in Australia, Archbishop Gino Paro, the Apostolic Delegate, who resides in a relatively modest building in Edward Street, North Sydney.

The Vatican has two kinds of representatives abroad. With countries that have treaty relations with the Holy See, the Vatican exchanges ambassadors. The Vatican's ambassador has the title of nuncio and his diplomatic standing and privileges are fully recognised.

TO OTHER COUNTRIES the Vatican may send Apostolic delegates. Although officially they are only liaison officers between the Vatican on one side and the local Catholic Church and State authorities on the other, they are granted diplomatic privileges by courtesy. Whenever a new Apostolic Delegate arrives in Australia he invariably calls on the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and mostly on the Minister for External Affairs.

Subsequently, he deals directly with the Australian Government and not through the Roman Catholic Church in Australia. This means that Archbishop Paro will have to spend a lot of time in Canberra between now and next November. Because of his eight trips abroad since his election to St. Peter's throne on June 21, 1963, Pope Paul has been called "the Pilgrim Pope". He went to Jerusalem in 1964,
to India the same year, to the United Nations in New York in 1965, to Fatima in Portugal in 1967, also in 1967, to to Turkey  Bogota (Colombia) in 1968, to Geneva in June, 1969. and to Uganda the following July. Their combined experience now also serves as a model for the or-ganisation of Papal trips, allowing, of course, for variations owing to local conditions.

For the Pope's trips abroad the Vatican charters one of the big jets, whenever possible, from one of the national airlines of his country of destination. So he may come to Australia by a special Qantas flight if it is available. Naturally, the Pope travels with a fairly large retinue. Usually a number of cardinals accompany him. Nine "princes of the church" went with him for the short - one day - trip to Geneva, two to Uganda and three to Bogota.

On his last two trips the Vatican's Secretary of State (equivalent of a Foreign Minister), Cardinal Jean Villot was with the Pope. It is almost certain that he will also come to Australia. The 10 to 20 other persons include high Vatican officials, the Pope's secretaries, security guards (usually with the commander of the Vatican gendarmerie in charge), the Holy Father's physician, domestic servants and as many Journalists, photographers, television and radio reporters as the plane can take.

The Pope is an avid newspaper reader. When in Rome he spends an hour every morning perusing the world press and even when he travels he likes to go through the local papers. If it's possible the Pope likes to stay at the nunciatures, which are "Vatican territory". However, where he will spend the one or two nights in Sydney is still uncertain. For even if everybody else moved out for the duration of the Pontiff's visit, the house of the Apostolic Delegation would be too small for the Pope and for his closest retinue. However, as the Apostolic Delegation seems unsuitable, other possible alternatives include Cardinal Gilroy's residence in Darling Point, some Catholic institutions and even Government House, Kirribilli - if some problems of protocol can be overcome.

ALTHOUGH THE Pope's stay in Australia won't be a State visit, precedents suggest that he will he received at the airport by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and other Commonwealth and State dignitaries.

So far, wherever he has gone, he has always been welcomed on arrival by the head of State. For example, in Turkey he was received (and then farewelled) by President Cevdet Sunay, a Moslem, and in Geneva by Swiss President Ludwig von Moos, a Protestant. On several previous trips, Pope Paul received in audience not only the leaders of his own church but also those of other religions. In Bogota, for instance, the callers included representatives of the Jewish community led by the Chief Rabbi. Time permitting, this precedent may be repeated in Sydney. Time will be a major problem in Sydney, anyway.

 Crammed into some 48 hours, will be his participation at the special conferences of the bishops of Oceania — his immediate reason for coming — his celehration of a monster Mass probably at the Sydney Showground and his meeting with as many of the high and the humble who can be fitted in. It will take weeks before the detailed programme is known. But Australian church and State authorities are determined to make the first-ever visit of a Pope to Australia the success a historic event deserves.

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