More than a million people, 9,000 priests and 800 bishops attend the closing mass of WYD. It is a celebration of the universality of the Church. The Mass collection will go to the Holy Land and victims of the Tsunami.
Cologne (AsiaNews) The Australian city of Sydney will be the venue of the next WYD in 2008. This was announced by the pope at the end of the Mass to close WYD celebrations in Cologne, just before the Angelus prayer.
More that one million people, 9,000 priests and 800 bishops gathered at the esplanade of Marienfeld for Mass. The humid and slightly foggy climate did not dull the enthusiasm and beauty of the celebration nor did it dampen the participation of hundreds of thousands of youth who had remained awake in an all-night vigil on the esplanade, amid a few logistical difficulties.
Benedict XVI turned up at 10am in a pope-mobile and started the celebration. Greeting Cardinal Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, the pope thanked his "co-brother" in the episcopate, as well as all organizers and youth present.
"I would have liked to pass through all Marienfeld in the pope-mobile to be close to each one of you but this was impossible in view of the logistical situation," he said. "I thank you for these marvellous hours you have given me and for the communion we have lived and are living."
The Mass was conducted with an air of solemnity and feasting: German hymns, the Gloria accompanied by Latin-American music; the Creed by an Indian zitar; the Sanctus by African drums; the Agnus Dei by instruments from Oceania and the communion hymns by musical arrangements on pianoforte.
Prayers were said in Latin and several other languages.
The homily of Benedict XVI (which we have published separately in full) ended with his "catechesis" on adoration (the theme of this WYD was summed up in the words of the Magi: We have come to worship him): adoration as submission to God, as the true path to freedom, adoration as a "kiss", "embrace", "love" for Christ.
The end of the homily was met by long minutes of applause from youth present, who chanted (all in Italian), "Be-ne-detto, Be-ne-detto", by now the official slogan of this WYD and the name of Benedict XVI in all languages. Mgr Stanisław Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, had to interrupt the chanting to proceed with the profession of faith.
As a sign of solidarity with the poor, the Mass collection will be distributed to youth in the Holy Land and victims of the tsunami.
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Meisner awarded logos of the WYD of Cologne to five youth from the different continents: the comet, the tail of the comet, the cross, the symbol of the spire of the city's cathedral. They are a sign of the sending, of the mission to take the light of Christ "discovered" and experienced in Cologne to the world.
News of the choice of Sydney as the venue for the next WYD had already seeped out some days ago. Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of the city, had announced that if Sydney was chosen he would ask producer, Mel Gibson, to perform the Passion of Christ using various sites of the city as a backdrop.
Here below we reproduce the words of the pope before the Angelus prayer:
We have come to the conclusion of this marvellous celebration and indeed of the Twentieth World Youth Day. In my heart I sense welling up within me a single thought: "Thank you!" I am sure that this thought finds an echo in each one of you. God himself has implanted it in our hearts and he has sealed it with this Eucharist which literally means "thanksgiving". Yes, dear young people, our gratitude, born from faith, is expressed in our song of praise to Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who has given us yet another sign of his immense love.
Our words of thanks rise up to God through the gift of this unforgettable meeting, and are now extended to all those who have been involved in its preparation and organization. I wish to renew my gratitude particularly to the Pontifical Council for the Laity, under its President Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko, ably assisted by the Secretary, Bishop Josef Clemens, and also to my Confrères from the German Bishops' Conference, in the first place to the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner. I am grateful to the political and administrative authorities who have ensured that each event has run smoothly; I thank the many volunteers from German dioceses and from different countries. A cordial word of thanks goes also to the many contemplative communities who have supported us in prayer during this World Youth Day.
And now, as the living presence of the Risen Christ in our midst nourishes our faith and hope, I am pleased to announce that the next World Youth Day will take place in Sydney, Australia, in 2008. We entrust to the maternal guidance of Mary most holy, the future course of the young people of the whole world.
After the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI had some greetings to give:
[French] I greet affectionately the French-speaking young people. Thank you dear friends, for your participation, and I trust that you return home bringing within, you like the Magi, the joy of having found Christ, the Son of the living God.
[English] I extend a warm greeting to the English-speaking young people from all parts of the world at the conclusion of these unforgettable days. May the light of Christ, which you have followed on your way to Cologne, shine ever more brightly and strongly in your lives!
[Spanish] Dear Spanish-speaking young people! You have come to worship Christ. Now that you have found him, continue to worship him in your hearts, always prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). Have a pleasant return home!
[Italian] My dear Italian-speaking friends! This Twentieth World Youth Day is ending, but the Eucharistic celebration must continue in our lives: bring to all the joy of Christ that you have found here.
[Polish] To all the young Polish people, I extend a warm embrace! As the great Pope John Paul II would say: keep the flame of faith alive in your lives and in your people. May Our Lady, Mother of Christ, guide your steps always.
[Portuguese] I greet with affection the Portuguese-speaking young people. I pray dear friends, that you will always live in friendship with Jesus, so as to know true joy and communicate it to others, especially to young people in difficulty.
[Tagalog] My dear Tagalog-speaking friends and all the young people of Asia! Like the Magi, you too have come from the East to worship Christ. Now that you have found him, return to your countries bringing in your hearts the light of his love.
[Swahili] A warm greeting also to you, young people from Africa! Bring to your great and beloved Continent the hope that Christ has given you. Be everywhere sowers of peace and brotherhood.
[German] Dear friends who understand me in my own language, I thank you for the affection with which you have sustained me in these days. Be close to me in prayer. Walk together in unity. Always be faithful to Christ and to the Church. May the peace and the joy of Christ be with you always!