Addressing the Pope, the prelate thanked him for having made World Youth Day an "ordinary part" of the Church's life.
"Your Holiness, the World Youth Days were the invention of Pope John Paul the Great," Cardinal Pell recalled. "The World Youth Day in Cologne was already announced before your election. You decided to continue the World Youth Days and to hold this one in Sydney. We are profoundly grateful for this decision, indicating that the World Youth Days do not belong to one pope, or even one generation, but are now an ordinary part of the life of the Church. The John Paul II generation, young and old alike, is proud to be faithful sons and daughters of Pope Benedict."
At this, the Holy Father raised his hands and the crowd erupted into cheers.
That brought tears to my eyes when I read it.
We don't love our Pope because he is some fad-of-the-week rock star. We love him because he represents for us Christ, the ultimate servant, giving up his life for the Church. This cheer was not intended for the person of Joseph Ratzinger aka Benedict XVI, but extends deep into the mystical connection between Christ and his body, touching the very face of Jesus.
The 400,000 youth in attendance recognize the eternal promise of Christ as made manifest in the papal role. Their cheers for Benedict are an effect of their love for God, and of their receptiveness to God's love for them.
These World Youth Days are going to change the world; just wait and see. In fifty years, I warrant that nearly every Church leader will be able to point back to his experience at one or more WYD event as a turning point in his faith.