08/09/2005, 00.00
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At least 400,000 registered for World Youth Day

Organisers expect a million people will attend Benedict XVI's final mass. Some 30,000 are working as volunteers. The Pope will concede plenary indulgence to all those who participate.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Participation in the six digits is expected when young Catholics gather for the 20th World Youth Day (WYD) on August 16-21 in Cologne, Germany. The event will culminate with the presence of the Pope.

Some 400,000 young participants have already officially registered inspired by this year's theme: "We have come to worship Him". Organisers expect that number to be twice as much on the days of the main events and reach a million on August 21 when Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Eucharist in Marienfeld, Mary's Field, 17 km west of Cologne. Overall, about 1.2 million people are expected to come.

According to WYD spokesman Matthias Kopp, "over 70 per cent of those registered are European with the French topping the list, followed by the Spanish and the Italian. Another 16 per cent come from North America, 5 per cent from Asia, 4 per cent from Latin America and 2.5 per cent from Africa. The number of volunteer is a pleasant surprise: 31,145 from 119 countries.

Christoph Wild, who is in charge of these volunteers, said that "22,272 are German with more than half women or girls". The age of most volunteers (around 25,000) runs from 16 to 30 years.

The event's budget has been set at around € 100 million and is being picked up by the German government and the European parliament.

This year's WYD will also be the most tightly protected because of terrorist threats. Security will be backed by local and German federal law enforcement as well as private security guards from Portugal, France and Italy.

The Catechesis will take up most of the mornings of August 16-18 before the Pope's arrival. On the afternoon of the 18, Pope Benedict XVI will hold his first public event, a welcome party and trip on the 'Rheinenergie' along the Rhine.

On Saturday, August 20, the Marienfeld plain will see Pope and youth participate in the same vigil ahead of the final mass that the Pontiff will celebrate the next day.

In addition to the traditional WYD activities, Benedict XVI will meet with the local Jewish community and visit Cologne's Synagogue on the morning of the 19. He will also give an audience to leaders of the local Muslim communities at the Bishop's Residence.

On this occasion, the Pope has granted the plenary indulgence to all those who will present in Cologne. For all those who cannot but who will pray for the young people, he has granted the partial indulgence.

John Paul II chose the German city for the 2005 WYD because during the "last century huge crowds of young people met in Germany and heard words of hatred, division, and violence. In the same place, in the same territory, other thousands of youth will pronounce words of brotherhood, reconciliation and peace".

For several weeks, Benedict XVI has expressed his desire to see WYD become a starting point for the re-evangelisation of Europe.

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See also
Pope: Discover Christ to resolve forgetfulness of God and "do-it-yourself" religion
Benedict XVI's and the WYD's challenge: Being Christian is something true and beautiful
Benedict XVI: The 2008 WYD will be in Sydney
Pope: Take up John Paul's legacy and commit yourselves to serve Christ
Card. Toppo: "Criticism against the pope swept away by the youths in Cologne"


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