.- The Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, said this week he is convinced young people will flock to Cologne in the same way they have for previous World Youth Days convened by Pope John Paul II and that Benedict XVI will captivate young people in the same way as his predecessor. “The person of the new Pope will motivate in young people an equally new attraction and will mobilize new groups anxious to meet him that previously were not planning on attending. He will captivate them in different way, but he will captivate them,” the cardinal said in an interview with the Spanish daily La Razón.”
Cardinal Rouco said Benedict XVI will be persuasive in his exhorting the young people to “live fully the experience of encounter with Christ: to live the ‘We have come to adore him’ theme of the XX World Youth Day in Cologne with new freshness.”
During the interview, the cardinal recalled his days as a student of Ratzinger when he was professor of theology in Ratisbona, Germany, noting that already by then the future Archbishop of Munich and Cardinal of the Church had much rapport with young students.
“His deep personality of a professor who not only set forth theories but also conveyed a profound experience of Christ attracted others. He maintained a personal relationship with students, almost like a spiritual director. He was known for his concern for even the smallest problems affecting students…But he knew how to address them quietly without letting others know.”
Likewise, after being named Archbishop of Munich, “His sensibility for appreciating the evangelizing work of the new movements that were springing forth in the Church became known,” Cardinal Rouco said. “He always opened doors and enlightened the way for the extraordinary action of the Spirit in the Church: Opus Dei, Focolare, etc, know this well,” he emphasized.
Regarding his image in the press as someone cold, inflexible and distant, Cardinal Rouco said, “Benedict XVI is nothing, nothing at all, like those stereotypes.”
“The first impression students had of him was always positive: he was intellectually, humanly and spiritually attractive. Besides Romano Guardini, he has been perhaps one of the theology professors of the 20th century who has known most how to connect with the deepest concerns of his students,” he stated.