Cologne, Germany, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - Before a World Youth Day crowd of more than one million in Marienfeld Sunday morning, Pope Benedict XVI called on young people to make their love for Christ and their desire to build a better world known to others.
“Let others see this, let the world see it, since this is exactly the witness that the world expects from the disciples of Jesus Christ; in this way, and through your love above all, the world will be able to discover the star that we follow as believers,” he urged the pilgrims who came to Cologne, Germany for the 20th WYD.
The 78-year-old Pope delivered his homily from the Altar’s Hill, built in Marienfeld (the field of Mary) for the concluding papal events of World Youth Day. Organizers said 750 bishops concelebrated the mass with the Pope on the stage. Another 9,000 priests were seated on the grounds at the base of the hill.
Despite gray skies and 15-degree (Celsius) weather, pilgrims were enthusiastic in their welcome of the Pope, clapping their hands to the entrance hymn (Jesus Christ, You Are My Life) and fully participating in the mass. The Pope, dressed in gold vestments and mitre, waved and smiled.
The Pope delivered his homily in five languages: German, English, French, Italian and Spanish. He told the congregation that Christians must witness to unity through their lives, their capacity to forgive, their sensitivity to the needs of others, their willingness to share and their commitment to their neighbors. He said the elderly must not be abandoned to their solitude, and the suffering must not be ignored.
“If we think and live according to our communion with Christ, then our eyes will be opened,” he said, urging people to think beyond their own needs. “Then we will no longer be content to scrape a living just for ourselves, but we will see where and how we are needed. Living and acting thus, we will soon realize that it is much better to be useful and at the disposal of others than to be concerned only with the comforts that are offered to us.”
The Pope focused much of his homily on the Eucharist, saying that the Eucharist must become the center of our lives. He urged the young people to attend mass on Sundays and to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament.
Through the Eucharist, Jesus transformed the brutal violence of his death into “an act of total self-giving love”, and death into life, he said. Only this central act of transformation can truly renew the world, and those who receive the Eucharist in turn are transformed by it and become the one Body of Christ, he stated.
“In this way, adoration…becomes union. God no longer stands before us, as the one who is totally Other. He is within us and we are in him,” the Pope said.
“Sometimes, our initial impression is that having to include time for mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your [weekend’s] free time,” he said. The crowd applauded in agreement.
“Do not be deterred from taking part in Sunday mass, and help others to discover it too,” he told the youth. “This is because the Eucharist releases the joy that we need so much, and we must learn to grasp it ever more deeply, we must learn to love it. Let us pledge ourselves to do this – it is worth the effort!”
He encouraged the young people to “discover the intimate riches of the Church’s liturgy and its true greatness” and to lead others to Jesus. “A great joy cannot be kept to oneself,” he said. “It has to be passed on.
“In vast areas of the world today there is a strange forgetfulness of God,” the Pope observed. “It seems as if everything would be just the same even without him. But at the same time there is a feeling of frustration, a sense of dissatisfaction with everyone and everything,” he said.
“People tend to exclaim: ‘This cannot be what life is about!’ Indeed not. And so, together with forgetfulness of God there is a kind of new explosion of religion,” the Pope noted. He did not mention any religion and said he did not want to discredit any particular one, but he warned against turning religion into a consumer product.
“People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it. But religion constructed on a “do-it-yourself” basis cannot ultimately help us. It may be comfortable, but at times of crisis we are left to ourselves,” he told the attentive crowd. “Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ!”
In order for young people to do this, he urged them to learn and study about Sacred Scripture, the Church’s teachings and traditions. But, he said, books are not enough. It is important to form communities based on faith. He noted the new movements and communities that have been established in recent decades.
Read the complete message at:
Cologne, Germany, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - At the end of the Pope’s homily, the appreciative crowd chanted “Benedetto.” The sun finally made its appearance at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, and pilgrims began to remove some of the layers they had piled on against the cold.
At the end of the mass, Pope Benedict confirmed what many had already suspected—the next WYD will be held in Sydney, Australia, in 2008.
Thousands of young people remained in Marienfeld well after the Pope’s departure for a concert and to spend final moments with friends. Many others rushed out to catch trains and planes for their quick return home.
For the Pope’s full homily, go to: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=95
Cologne, Germany, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - Elated Australians joined their equally excited Cardinal Sunday, as Pope Benedict XVI confirmed the much-speculated reports that Sydney had indeed been chosen as the site for the 2008 World Youth Day.
The Holy Father made the announcement, according to the tradition, at the closing Mass for this year’s World Youth Day celebration in Cologne, Germany--attended by almost 1 million young Catholics.
Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, was quoted in the Australian saying that only the “scrooges” would be complaining about the Pope’s visit--the first papal visit to Australia in 13 years--and called it an “enormous privilege.”
According to the Australian, Cardinal Pell boasted over what he called “a coherent and well-prepared bid” which had “tremendous help from the federal and state governments."
"It's certainly a Catholic celebration”, he added, “but will be open to anyone, especially young people who don't have a settled core of religious conviction and are looking for something to hold on to."
Some 5 million Catholics make their home in Australia, making Christianity the country’s largest religion.
Because of Sydney’s somewhat difficult location, the Cardinal said that the 2008 turnout probably wouldn’t be as large as that in Cologne. "There's an immense Catholic population in Europe who can get in a car or an old bus and come along," he said. "The difficulty in Australia will be the money for the airfares."
Reportedly though, Cardinal Pell has already spoken to Australian authorities about softening visa requirements for some visitors. Many Third World residents were turned away from Cologne because of stiff travel policies.
"We've spoken to the Australian Government initially”, he said, “and the starting point is that visitors will be treated similarly to how visitors to the Olympic Games were.”
"It's an important matter."
It is also rumored that native Aussie and actor Mel Gibson will be asked to perform the Stations of the Cross at the event. Gibson recently produced the blockbuster “Passion of the Christ” movie.
Some 2500 Australians in Cologne cheered the news last night excitedly, waving national flags.
The theme for the 2008 World Youth Day is slated as "take up your cross and follow me", repeating the words of Jesus in the Gospels when asked how to attain eternal life.
Cologne, Germany, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - In his concluding address, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko expressed gratitude for the “unforgettable memory of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, who gave World Youth Day to the Church.
“His presence could be felt and almost touched during these past few days,” he said to the cheers of the young crowd.
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity thanked Pope Benedict XVI for having presided at the international youth event and presented the multitude of young pilgrims, saying: “These are young people proud to be Christians, which means disciples of Christ the Master! Here before you, is the youthful Church, a Church full of hope and missionary energy!”
He spoke of the impact of the international gathering on Cologne, Europe and the Church. “Felix Colonia! …Never in your long history have you seen such an impressive demonstration of faith,” he said.
“Felix Europa! … In these young Christians you rediscover the memory of the roots with which you were born, roots that have woven the fabric of your deepest identity and that are the guarantee of your future.
“Felix Ecclesia! … In your children you show the world your ever youthful face.”
At the end of WYD, the archbishop said, the young people are ready to be sent out to the world to witness to Christ. “They are all ready to depart from Cologne as the young apostles of the third millennium,” he said.
The Pope then conducted a short ceremony with the WYD 2005 logo, sending the young people on mission, to return to their native lands and to witness to the Gospel with their lives.
Cologne, Germany, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - World Youth Day pilgrims awoke to gray skies and chilly 13-degree temperatures early Sunday morning in Marienfeld, the site of the 10 a.m. papal mass located about 40 kilometers southwest of Cologne, but 1.2 million attended Pope Benedict’s first Mass outside of Italy.
Organizers estimate that at least 700,000 pilgrims attended a candlelight prayer vigil with Pope Benedict the night before. They then slept in the open field under cold and damp conditions. But pilgrims were grateful that it hadn’t rained as forecasted. At 7 a.m. on Sunday, they were hoping that the weather would hold out until at least the end of the Mass.
The spiritual presence of Pope John Paul II was more felt at the morning’s Mass. Certain parts of the Mass, featuring music from the four corners of the earth, recalled the message John Paul had issued a few months before his death to young people for WYD 2005.
During the offertory, in addition to the bread and wine, the young people imitated the three Magi and offer gold, in the form of a chalice, frankincense, in the form of incense, and myrrh, in the form of a branch of myrrh from Israel to remind the congregation of the healing properties of the Eucharist.
The symbolism of the three gifts is explained in John Paul’s message, in which he wrote: “My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives, namely, your freedom to follow Him out of love, responding faithfully to His call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to him, in praise of His glory; offer Him your myrrh, that is your affection of total gratitude to Him, true Man, who loved us to the point of dying as a criminal on Golgotha.”
Participants in the offertory procession also included the “Sternsinger.” Since the 16th century, Christians in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have worn garments similar to those worn by the Magi to go from door to door and spread the news of the birth of Christ. Each year in Germany, about 500,000 children and teens take on this role each year to collect donations for children in poorer countries and write the blessing, “May Christ bless this house” on the doorframes.
The bishops and cardinals wore liturgical vestments that were specifically designed for WYD. The chasuble featured a bright yellow vertical line on the front and the back. When the cleric brings his hands together in prayer, a cross becomes visible. According to organizers, the symbol signifies that the priest subjects himself to the mystery of the Cross and, together with the community of the faithful, sets the Cross in motion so that it becomes the sign of light that we celebrate and follow as a Church.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the pilgrims disassembled the WYD 2005 logo to symbolize the conclusion of the international gathering. Each of the symbols were given to young people from different countries to symbolize that the pilgrims are being sent back to their native countries to live their faith with conviction.
To read full text of the homily:
Cologne, Germany, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - It was a sight to remember. Nearly 700,000 pilgrims joined Pope Benedict XVI Saturday in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the evening vigil of World Youth Day 2005.
The young pilgrims stood in silence and knelt on the damp ground of Marienfeld for nearly 20 minutes to worship Jesus Christ, in Eucharist, which was placed in a monstrance on the main altar. The Pope was on a kneeler in front of the monstrance.
For Vincent Fernandez, a German pilgrim of Indian heritage, adoration was the most significant part of the evening. The Blessed Sacrament was brought to a tent, in the center of Marienfeld, which would remain open all night long.
“The most impressive thing about the vigil was the Pope kneeling before Jesus Christ,” said Fernandez, 25. “This is the first time I see the Pope and it was very special to see him kneel before the Blessed Sacrament.”
Eucharistic adoration is a perfect expression of faith and worship for this WYD since the theme is “We have come to adore him.” In deed, the Church is currently celebrating the Year of the Eucharist. Benedict has already said that John Paul had wanted WYD to be a highpoint of the Year of the Eucharist.
Genny Rojas of Costa Rica appreciated Benedict’s message that God is everlasting love and that he is calling his people to journey in a pilgrimage with Mary and the three Magi.
Fernandez was an admirer of Pope John Paul II and really appreciated the tribute to the late Pope at the beginning of the service. Pope Benedict XVI blessed a huge church bell that was dedicated to John Paul.
“I thought the tribute to John Paul was very good. “It was the very first thing he did,” said Fernandez. “This was necessary because this World Youth Day was the bridge from Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI.”
The Pope had arrived to Marienfeld, as scheduled, at 7 p.m., and he made his way through the crowds.
The two-hour prayer service began at 8 p.m. Music was provided by World Youth Day Choir B, an Indian dance choir and a dance and music group from Ghana.
Pilgrims were given candles and, during the Service of Light, all of the candles were lit from the Light of Bethlehem. The Light of Bethlehem comes from the holy city. It was brought to about 25 churches.
To read full text of Pope Benedict’s vigil speech:
Cologne, Germany, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - While in Cologne participating in World Youth Day, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana, Cuba, said the event is a chance for young people to encounter themselves and not just live the emotion of the moment.
In an interview with Catholic News Agency, the cardinal said, “There is no other world event like this one, and we have seen in each World Youth Day that catechesis is taken very seriously and that the people participate despite being tired.”
In contrast with other youth concerts, protests or parties, he said, at World Youth Day young people do not get lost in the crowd; rather, each one has a personal and profound experience and maintains his or her individuality.
Cardinal Rivera also noted, “We shouldn’t let the critics stop us. They never stopped John Paul II.”
Washington D.C., Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - Pointing to an announcement from the Pennsylvania Department of Health that the number of abortions in that state had dropped, Fr. Frank Pavone, well-known president of the group Priests for Life, expressed his joy yesterday over the news, but encouraged recommitment to creating education and alternatives to abortion.
In a statement, Fr. Pavone said that while "The numbers of abortions continue to go down…We should avoid the temptation to oversimplify the explanations for this decrease.”
He added that “we should all be happy about it and should recommit ourselves to creating alternatives to abortion and educating the public regarding what abortion is."
Fr. Pavone also laid out plans which his organization intends to implement. "Starting in October,” he said, “Priests for Life will launch an aggressive educational campaign about the most common abortion procedures, simply exposing the details through court testimony of practicing abortionists and medical textbooks and diagrams.”
“That is enough”, he pointed out, “for most people to reject the procedure altogether."
Santiago, Chile, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial of Temuco, Chile, has requested the Institute of Religious Science at the local Catholic university conduct a study on the satanic groups that exist in the region.
Recently the bishop indicated that it has long been known that “these satanic groups and other violent groups exist,” but he said there was a need for in-depth research. He said the bishops of Chile would be analyzing the issue at their meeting in November.
The rector of the Institute, Father Juan Leonelli, said that he had not received the formal request from the bishop but that he was willing to help. He said a team of experts would be needed in order to study the problem from different angles.
Bishop Vial said the interest in a study of the issue was prompted by the recent wave of violent attacks, which have been perpetrated by members of satanic cults. Father Leonelli noted that such attacks are generally the result of “weak or disturbed individuals who are easily attracted to satanic and other cults.”
However, he warned against publicizing such occurrences in the media as other young people might “use the same argument to justify their actions.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 22, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Committee on Human Migration of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon of Juarez, has called on the governments of Mexico and the United States to work together for “a bi-national policy in order to address the problem of violence” affecting border towns.
Bishop Ascencio explained that despite the political division between the two countries, the border towns often run together and share the same problems. Therefore, he said, the matter ought to be addressed jointly.
Speaking to local reporters, the bishop recalled that emigration is a natural right, but that citizens also have the right to have the basic means necessary to live with dignity in their own countries and not feel forced to leave their homes to move elsewhere.
Bishop Ascencio declined to comment on recent measures by the governors of New Mexico and Arizona, who have both declared a state of emergency in order to deal with the problem of illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
Nonetheless, he called the actions by the Minutemen—a group of citizens that is patrolling the borders and rounding up illegal aliens--“fiercely racist”.
“Because of their own tactics they are not going to stop illegal immigration nor violence. These groups want nothing to do with people of other races or nationalities. Therefore we need coordinated action from both governments,” he said.