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WORLD YOUTH DAY 2005 - COLOGNE, GERMANY

The 20th World Youth Day 2005 was a Catholic youth festival that started on August 16 and continued until August 21, 2005 in Cologne, Germany. It was the first World Youth Day and foreign trip of Pope Benedict XVI, who joined the festival on August 18. This meeting was decided by the previous pope, John Paul II, during the Toronto World Youth Day of 2002. The theme was "We have come to worship Him" (from Matthew 2:2).

About 400,000 young people from 200 countries attended during the week, and more than 1,000,000 came for the weekend. They were joined by about 600 bishops and cardinals, as well as by 6,600 reporters.

Photo from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hundreds of thousands of Catholic pilgrims camped overnight in a field outside Cologne awaiting the open-air Mass from Pope Benedict XVI which wrapped up his first foreign visit since his election.

The Pope energised a crowd of some 800,000 pilgrims in a service where he highlighted the need for Christians to embrace their religion.

"It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true," the 78-year-old pontiff told the pilgrims gathered in the vast Marienfeld near the village of Kerpen.

"True revolution consists in simply turning to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?"

As he spoke atop the altar mount, the flags of almost 200 nations were waved among the crowd.

During his four-day visit to his homeland, centred around World Youth Day celebrations, the Pope made a point of stressing the importance of cross-faith cooperation.

After meeting with Jewish leaders at a synagogue on Friday, he joined Muslim leaders on Saturday, urging them to join with Christians in trying to combat the spread of terrorism worldwide.

He said Muslim leaders had a "great responsibility" in properly educating their younger generations.

"I am certain that I echo your own thoughts when I bring up as one of our concerns the spread of terrorism," he said.

"Terrorist activity is continually recurring in various parts of the world, sowing death and destruction, and plunging many of our brothers and sisters into grief and despair," he said.


Vacationing pope prays, jokes with guests, said to be finishing book

By Catholic News Service

LES COMBES, Italy (CNS) -- A visibly relaxed Pope Benedict XVI spent more than 40 minutes praying and joking with some 5,000 people who gathered in an Alpine meadow for the July 24 recitation of the Angelus.

Instead of waiting for the crowd's cheers to end so he could continue his prepared remarks, the pope gave a running commentary on the size, volume and enthusiasm of the groups that made their way to Les Combes to share his last Sunday in the northern Italian Alps.

When a roar went up as he began greeting Spanish speakers in their native tongue, the pope said, "You always make yourselves heard."

But there was only a smattering of applause when he addressed German speakers. So he explained in Italian, "There are only a few of them, but they are here."

After the Angelus, Pope Benedict waded into the crowd and spent about 20 minutes greeting and blessing people who were in a special section for the sick and those using wheelchairs.

He even signed his name in an autograph book that a middle-aged woman handed to him.

The autograph book was not the only thing the pope was writing during his July 11-28 stay in the Alps, said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Vatican spokesman. Pope Benedict was using his mountain retreat to finish a book he began writing three years ago, the spokesman said.

Navarro-Valls refused to tell reporters what the book is about, but said, "You will find out when it arrives in the bookstores."

However, several Italian papers have written that the book is about the "battle of ideas" and finding a proper balance between faith and reason, truth and freedom, and religion and ethics.

Navarro-Valls said the pope also was working on the speeches he will give during his Aug. 18-21 visit to Germany for World Youth Day and on a first draft of an encyclical that "will come out later."

The youth gathering in Cologne, and particularly the importance of the faith and commitment of European youths, was one of the topics of Pope Benedict's Angelus address.

Pope Benedict repeated what Pope John Paul II had said about Europe when he visited Spain in 1982: "I address to you, old Europe, a cry filled with love: Turn back to yourself. Be yourself. Discover your origins. Give new life to your roots. Revive the authentic values that have made your history glorious."

Pope John Paul's call to build a new Europe on the foundation of moral values and Christian humanism is as urgent as ever, Pope Benedict said.

Reminding the crowd that he was preparing to join hundreds of thousands of young people in Cologne, he said, "Let us pray that in European societies the new generations, drawing their life from Christ, would know how to be the ferment for a renewed humanism in which faith and reason cooperate in a fruitful dialogue for the promotion of the human person and the building of authentic peace."

Pope Benedict left the Alpine chalet July 25 to meet in the tiny parish church with about 140 priests, religious and deacons from the Valle d'Aosta region.

He spoke to reporters before and after the gathering.

Looking toward his 100th day in office July 27, they asked him if it was difficult being pope.

"Yes, in a certain sense," he answered. "I had never thought of (taking up) this ministry, but people have been so good to me and support me."

They asked if he believes Pope John Paul is close to him.

"I feel he is very close through his writing, but also with a spiritual presence," Pope Benedict said.

A reporter asked him about efforts to promote better relations between the Vatican and China.

The pope said he hoped they would "continue to move forward."

Another reporter asked if there would be any new possibilities for regularizing the situation of Catholics who have been divorced and civilly remarried.

Pope Benedict told them the question involved situations that were too complex to respond with just a few words to reporters.

 

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