.- In his first interview since being elected to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the joy of being Christian in the midst of the world and of the importance of renewing the faith in Europe through experiences such as World Youth Day Cologne.
The interview, conducted in German on the eve of World Youth Day, was partially broadcast Sunday night and will be aired in its entirety by Vatican Radio on Monday.
The Pope expressed his hope that WYD would “provide a new impulse to an old continent (Europe),” and he said the event “would be substantially an encounter between young Catholics from all over the world and also with those young people who are not Catholic but who desire to know if they can find among us an answer to their questions.”
“Ecumenical dialogue as such is not the principal theme (of WYD),” the Holy Father explained, but he did note that an ecumenical dimension would be present “in the encounters between young people: the young people do not only speak with the Pope, they speak with each other.”
Nevertheless, the Pope said he was eager to meet with Evangelical leaders in Germany. “I will meet with our Evangelical brothers: we won’t have much time because the schedule is very tight, but it will be enough for us to reflect on how we wish to move ahead,” he explained.
The crisis in Europe
Referring to the hundreds of thousands of young people expected at the gathering, Benedict said, "I would like to show them how beautiful it is to be Christian, because the widespread idea which continues to exist is that Christianity is composed of laws and bans which one has to keep and, hence, is something toilsome and burdensome.”
He said that leads many to think life is freer without the Church.
"I want to make clear that it is not a burden to be carried with great love and realization, but is like having wings. It is wonderful to be a Christian with this knowledge that it gives us a great breadth, a large community," Benedict said.
The Pontiff also warned that Europe is in crisis because it is denying its values founded upon Christianity. “This civilization, with its dangers and its hope, can be ‘tamed’ and led to all of its grandeur only if it learns to recognize the sources of its strength,” which according to the Pope, is found it its Christian origins.