More than 500,000 pilgrims, are expected to attend WYD08

THE "house full" signs will be up in Brisbane and on the Gold and Sunshine coasts next month when 10,000 young Catholic pilgrims arrive in southeast Queensland

The pilgrims, from 40 countries, will attend events in Brisbane from July 10 to 14, in the lead-up to World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney over the following five days.

WYD08 will be the largest religious-based event Australia has ever hosted. It will attract over 125,000 international visitors, more than the 2000 Olympics.

It also will mark the first visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Australia. The Pope arrives in Australia on July 17 and will celebrate Sunday Mass at Sydney's Randwick Racecourse on July 20.

Brisbane WYD Secretariat spokeswoman Bernadette Kreutzer said 5000 international pilgrims were being fully accommodated in 2500 homes in the Brisbane archdiocese.

Other Queensland dioceses also will host pilgrims, with 360 young visitors staying in Townsville and 130 Gold Coast families hosting 240 New Caledonians.

Ms Kreutzer said another 5000 young international visitors would be accommodated in hotels and backpacker accommodation in Brisbane and on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

More than 500,000 pilgrims, aged from 16 to 35, are expected to attend the largest youth event in the world in Sydney. Treasurer of Brisbane Backpackers and Adventurers Association Ben Schultz said while some Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast backpacker establishments were taking pilgrims, others would not.

He said some were not happy that a Christian organisation had made backpacker bookings of 100 or more beds and then cancelled after homestays had been found.

Manager of clearance at Brisbane airport's Customs operations, Jo Churchill, said Customs was not expecting processing delays.

Ms Kreutzer said several dozen priests from the Brisbane archdiocese, as well as other clergy around the state, would attend the Sydney events. Supply priests, including retired and visiting priests from other dioceses, would say Sunday Mass in their absence.

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