The profound effect that the Pope has had and continues to have on even hardbitten journalists is nicely captured by the blog of SBS journalist Auskar Surbakti who was granted a private audience with the Pope on the plane home. He says:
"I just had a one-one-one chat with the Pope! We're refuelling in Darwin now, but earlier soon after take-off, he thanked the journos for our work. He's never addressed journos on the return leg of a trip.
Then myself, the SMH journo and another Vatican reporter who's having her birthday today, were taken to the front of the plane so we could each meet the pontiff!! eek!.....
Then he thanks me for my work this week, after which I get on bended knee and he blesses me!
It felt very overwhelming. I haven't felt that from anyone I've met before. Not when I asked him a question and I was a couple of metres away from him; not while meeting any celebrity or politician; and not while I met the Dalai Lama recently.
It was very strange...Just as a side bar, it's been perfect weather all week for World Youth Day: clear skies, warm but not too warm weather, not a DROP of rain. Then after the mass sleep-out and after the Final Mass (so World Youth Day is officially over) it pours! And earlier in his farewell address to the pope, Cardinal George Pell had asked the pontiff to pray for rain..."