Letter from Cologne


Jo Siedlecka is accompanying the Catholic Youth Service at World Youth Day, this is the second in her series of reports.

Enourmous crowds of young people began gathering along the river Rhine this afternoon to greet Pope Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father addressed the crowds from the RhineEnergie cruise ship and assured them that the happiness they seek has a name: Jesus of Nazareth."Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity!" the Pope said.
In a festive atmosphere, and waving flags from countries of all the continents, young people heard the Holy Father's words from the ship itself.
"Dear young people the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: It is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist."
"Be completely convinced of this: Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world," he affirmed in the address, passages of which he read in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian.
"Whatever the cost"
On board the ship was an orchestra that, in moments of silence, played prayerful songs, some composed by the ecumenical Community of Taizé.

Young people dressed in their countries' natives costumes surrounded the Pope, who was accompanied by several Cardinals and Bishops.
Five ships, carrying young people from each of the world's continents, escorted the Pope's vessel.
"In these days I encourage you to commit yourselves without reserve to serving Christ, whatever the cost," exhorted the Holy Father.
"The encounter with Jesus Christ will allow you to experience in your hearts the joy of his living and life-giving presence, and enable you to bear witness to it before others," affirmed Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father greeted "those among you who have not been baptized, and those of you who do not yet know Christ or have not yet found a home in his Church."
During the 10 kilometers of the ship's journey, the Holy Father stood up several times to greet the cheerring crowds welcoming him as he passed by.
After disembarking at the Hohenzollernbruecke pier, the Pope went to Cologne's Cathedral with the youths carrying the World Youth Day cross.

Elsewhere in the city, and in Bonn and Dusseldorf WYD pilgrims crowded around huge screens to watch the arrival of the Holy Father at Cologne cathedral.

The sun shone as he arrived around 6pm, accompanied by a group of cardinals and laypeople representing all five continents.

Welcoming the Holy Father to Cologne (Archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Cardinal Meisner said;

Dear, honoured Holy Father!

You have come to Cologne to meet the youth of the world. This is something for which we have worked long and very diligently to prepare. But the citizens of Cologne are here, too. And for this reason, the Archbishop of Cologne would like to extend a very warm welcome to our city, a city proud to have been granted the opportunity to serve as host for the 20th World Youth Day. And because a love shared is a love increased twofold, we in Cologne do not feel overlooked that you are now devoting all of your time and all of your attention to the youth of the world.

You have come to Cologne for the first time in your capacity as Pope, but you have already known our city and our archdiocese for decades: as a professor in Bonn and as an advisor to Cardinal Frings at the II Vatican Council, and then later as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Of course we here in Cologne know you, too, and we are exuberant that you have now come to Germany and to Cologne for the 1st time as our Holy Father.

Cologne is widely considered the Rome of the North. Holy Father, for this reason, please make yourself at home here with us. Welcome to Cologne!"

For more information contact Jo Siedlecka on 07720 810 479