Pope ends World Youth Day with mass for 1m
22 August 2005, COLOGNE, GERMANY - Ending his first trip abroad as pope, Benedict XVI Sunday bade farewell to 1 million faithful gathered for mass Sunday in a German field after telling them that much of the modern world had "forgotten God". During his four-day trip to the Catholic church's World Youth Day festival in Cologne, the 78-year-old pope established his own style, reaching out for dialogue with Jews and Muslims and focussing his message to Catholics on the need to remain "one great family". A cha
22 August 2005
COLOGNE, GERMANY - Ending his first trip abroad as pope, Benedict XVI Sunday bade farewell to 1 million faithful gathered for mass Sunday in a German field after telling them that much of the modern world had "forgotten God".
During his four-day trip to the Catholic church's World Youth Day festival in Cologne, the 78-year-old pope established his own style, reaching out for dialogue with Jews and Muslims and focussing his message to Catholics on the need to remain "one great family".
A chartered Lufthansa jet carried Benedict homeward to Rome. Residents of former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's birthplace, the German village of Marktl near the Austrian border, were promised a flypast on the way.
The Sunday mass, which WDR television in Germany said had an estimated TV viewer audience of 250 million round the globe, was a more muted occasion than the previous evening's prayers, begun in the rosy glow of sunset and ending in a sparkling, candlelit night.
Under low cloud Sunday, a crowd that had straightened up crumpled clothes after a night of fitful sleep and singing to keep warm in the damp cold was more sparing in its cheers. The ritual of mass familiar to Catholics was interspersed with music and processions.
Benedict, an academic theologian and author by training, chose advanced theory for his sermon and appeared stiff after the busy round of addresses and meetings that followed his arrival in Germany on Thursday.
Addressing a congregation that included German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, he said faith in God's love was needed to make the world good, but "today in many parts of the world there is a remarkable forgetting of God" that led to a sense of dissatisfaction.
"I know that you as young people have great aspirations, that you want to pledge yourselves to build a better world. Let others see this," the pope said.
However, he cautioned against do-it-yourself religion outside the church.
While praising the many "spontaneous" revivalist groups that had sprung up within the church, he said it was important they remained "in communion" with the bishops and Rome and part of "the great family" of Catholics.
The pope announced the next World Youth Day, a congress for under-30 Catholics to be held in Sydney, Australia in 2008. Some 2,000 Australian pilgrims applauded and danced.
More than 400,000 young Catholics from 197 nations have been in Cologne praying and learning since this year's event began on Tuesday.
In off years, World Youth Day, which was instituted by pope John Paul II in 1984, is celebrated as a single Sunday of prayer in Rome and local churches round the globe.
With a congregation confirmed by police at 1 million, Sunday's mass was the biggest ever in Germany. Throughout the afternoon, bus and train operators and German police faced the challenge of helping the pilgrims off the Marienfeld open-air site and on the way home.
The mass was celebrated atop a huge mound raised over the flat Rhine plain just under 30 kilometres west of Cologne.
Police said the day passed off without any threats to the pope. The only disturbance were a joyriders' hot-air balloon and seven other aircraft which strayed near the no-fly zone that had been declared above the Marienfeld.
The Catholic relief and rescue organization Knights of Malta said its ambulances evacuated 177 people who fell ill in the vast crowd.
On Sunday afternoon, the pope met with German bishops and appealed to them to rejuvenate their church. Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Germany said he expected the enthusiasm of WYD to pass into German Catholic homes.
On Saturday Benedict had met with Muslim leaders from Germany, telling them terrorism was "cruel and perverse". He called for a straight-talking dialogue between Christianity and Islam.
Subject: German news