By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Against a backdrop of both enthusiasm and controversy, Australia's Cardinal George Pell tonight presided over the opening Mass of the 2008 edition of World Youth Day, before a crowd of more 150,000 people gathered in the colorfully titled spot of Barangaroo, a former wharf in downtown Sydney named for the wife of an 18th century aboriginal leader.
Sometimes dubbed the "Catholic Woodstock," World Youth Day is the largest youth gathering held on a regular basis anywhere in the world. The event was founded by the late Pope John Paul II as a way of evangelizing young people and reenergizing the Catholic church.
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