08/18/2005, 00.00
GERMANY – WYD
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Benedict XVI: WYD, where cultures and traditions meet, a blessing for Germany and the world

Cologne/Bonn (AsiaNews) – Visibly moved, the Pope thanked Germany for welcoming him and the young people attending World Youth Day, "a worldwide ecclesial event" in his words.

The presence of so many young people is a sign of hope that cultures and traditions may meet and a pledge that something good will come to Germany itself.

As the national and international, the particular and the universal meet, shaped by faith, Pope Benedict XVI delivered his speech at 12 pm after his arrival at Cologne/Bonn International Airport.

After listening to the words of welcome of Horst Köhler, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, who stressed how beautiful it was to see young people meet in peace in a world marked by terrorism, the Pontiff thanked God for having enabled him "to begin my pastoral visits outside of Italy with this visit to the nation of my birth". He also thanked "all those who have so competently and generously helped to organise this worldwide ecclesial event."

"The Church in Germany and the people of the German Federal Republic can be proud of their long tradition of openness to the global community; among other things, this is seen in their many initiatives of solidarity, particularly on behalf of developing countries," he said.

"In this spirit of esteem and acceptance towards all those who come from different cultures and traditions, we are about to experience World Youth Day in Cologne. That so many young people have come to meet the Successor of Peter is a sign of the Church's vitality. I am happy to be with them, to confirm their faith and to enliven their hope. At the same time, I am sure that I will also receive something from them, especially from their enthusiasm, their sensitivity and their readiness to face the challenges of the future," he added.

The Pontiff said that his trip included meetings with representatives of the other Churches, the Jewish community in Cologne's Synagogue and representatives of some Muslim communities.

He noted that "[t]hese meetings are important steps along the journey of dialogue and cooperation in our shared commitment to building a more just and fraternal future, a future which is truly more human."

For that to happen, it is necessary to rediscover, in the Pope's words, "the meaning of life as a 'pilgrimage', guided by a 'star', in search of the Lord" like the magi, the three wise men, whose relics are preserved in Cologne, and whose words, " We Have Come To Worship Him", are the theme of this year's WYD.

"Like the Magi," he said, "all believers—and young people in particular—have been called to set out on the journey of life in search of truth, justice and love. The ultimate goal of the journey can only be found through an encounter with Christ, an encounter which cannot take place without faith."

In rediscovering their faith, young people attending the WYD will find help in the "great historical monuments" and "works of art" found in different places around the country and draw inspiration "from the spiritual traditions to the mystical experience of a vast array of saints", who even today, in the heart of Europe, testif[y] to the fruitfulness of the Christian faith and tradition," saints like Saint Boniface, the great evangeliser of Germany, Saint Ursula, Saint Albert the Great, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and the Blessed Adolph Kolping.

"May these, our illustrious brothers and sisters in the faith, who down the centuries have held high the torch of holiness, be 'models' and 'patrons' of the World Youth Day which we now celebrate."

Benedict XVI ended his speech by calling on the Lord and the Virgin Mary, who "for centuries [. . .] has kept watch over the German people", to continue doing so for the future of the Church and of Germany.

"May this country's long history and her great social, economic and cultural attainments be an incentive to renewed commitment in the pursuit of authentic progress, solidarity and development, not only for the German nation, but for the other peoples of the Continent as well," he said.

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