Benedict set to embark on first international mission

Anticipation is building as Pope Benedict XVI prepares to depart for next week's visit to Germany, which observers are describing as a test of his ability to connect with young Catholics.

Catholic News Service reports that in Cologne, the Holy Father will be welcomed by hundreds of thousands of young people from more than 150 countries. He will listen to their thoughts, their songs and their prayers, and offer his own reflections - formal and informal - at meetings and a closing Mass.

It says the three-day visit from next Thursday will be full of firsts: It will be Pope Benedict's first foreign trip, his first homecoming and his first appearance before a massive, international audience since his election in April.

The papal program has been expanded to include a visit to a synagogue, meetings with Germany's civil authorities, and encounters with local Muslims and ecumenical leaders.

But the primary focus will be the young people, and the world will be watching to see how the 78-year-old pope communicates with newer generations of Catholics.

The report comments that in his first four months as pontiff, Pope Benedict has sometimes described the church's mission as courageously speaking the truth, even to a society that does not want to hear it. World Youth Day will present an opportunity to explain that mission in a way that energises the church of the future.

Canadian Basilian Fr Thomas Rosica, national director for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, said Pope Benedict has already shown he can connect with young Catholics.

"I feel that young people today are looking for clear, articulate teaching on the Christian life. In Benedict they have a great teacher," Fr Rosica said. "Benedict is growing beautifully into his new role as chief shepherd and pastor. I think he will need this World Youth Day experience with all of its joy and exuberance just as much as the young people need the pope," Father Rosica said.

Over the [northern] summer, Pope Benedict has been working on his speeches and getting into the World Youth Day spirit, telling visitors: "I am no longer young, but my heart is young."

Pope's visit to Germany will return young papacy to world stage (Catholic News Service 11/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day - Australia
World Youth Day - International
World Youth Day - Vatican
World Youth Day 2005 - News by www.pulitzer.de
Diary of a Pilgrim (WYD 2005, Archdiocese of Melbourne)

German youths upset after Filipinos denied visas for WYD (CathNews 11/8/05)Outspoken rock band scratched from WYD (CathNews 10/8/05)
Visa denials disappoint WYD would-be pilgrims (CathNews 9/8/05)
Pope says worship is ultimate in human fulfillment (CathNews 8/8/05)
No-fly zone to aid WYD papal mass security (CathNews 5/8/05)
Youth make biggest ever pilgrimage to leave Australia (CathNews 4/8/05)
400 Melbourne youth head to Cologne to meet new Pope (CathNews 3/8/05)
Sydney WYD champagne corks await word from Pope (CathNews 2/8/05)
Vatican journo claims 2008 WYD 'winner is Sydney' (CathNews 1/8/05)
Terror threat changes WYD plans for Sydney pilgrims (CathNews 28/7/05)
WYD preparations enter home stretch (CathNews 20/7/05)
World Youth Day cross begins final push for Cologne (CathNews 7/7/05)
Pell leads bid for Sydney World Youth Day (CathNews 5/7/05)
Pope's trip to World Youth Day officially announced (CathNews 22/6/05)
Cardinal urges pope to keep World Youth Day commitment (CathNews 3/3/05)
German organizers further plans for World Youth Day (CathNews 7/1/05)

WYD: The Countdown Continues (Vatican Radio English Features 11/8/05, audio - requires Real Player)
Dunedin Catholics to German youth forum (Otago Daily Times 6/8/05)
WYD 2005: Mexican-Lebanese youths in Cologne and in search of their roots (AsiaNews.it 11/8/05)
Youth invasion starts (Catholic Leader 14/8/05)
Young pilgrims gather in Gallipoli (Catholic Leader 14/8/05)
Ten U.S. bishops to be World Youth Day catechetical leaders (Catholic News Service 10/8/05)
American pro-life youth begin WYD walk from Euro Parliament to Cologne (Catholic News Agency 11/8/05)
WYD organisers to let Argentine rock band perform at closing concert (Catholic News Agency 11/8/05)
Colombian young people to hold simultaneous day of reflection during WYD (Catholic News Agency 11/8/05)
Pro-abortion UN leader to address World Youth Day (Catholic World News 10/8/05)
Preliminary WYD ceremonies open today in German dioceses (Catholic World News 11/8/05)
NATO providing air security for WYD (Catholic World News 11/8/05)
Get in the World Youth Day Mosaic! (Independent Catholic News 11/8/05)
More World Youth Day messages (Independent Catholic News 11/8/05)
Countdown to Cologne (Catholic Outlook August 2005)
Bishop protests against Visa blocks (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 10/8/05)
Police: Security-Gaps elsewhere? (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 11/8/05)
Strife around Press Pools yet to come (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 11/8/05)
Big Manila WYD groups "no touts" (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 11/8/05)
Area teenagers head off to World Youth Day in Germany (St Louis Post-Dispatch 11/8/05)
Helping hand offered to travelling teens (The Southland Times/stuff.co.nz 9/8/05)
Cologne's Jewish community prepares for Pope (The Universe 11/8/05)
Condom Plans Cancelled at World Youth Day (The Universe 11/8/05)

Pope says Christians must acknowledge dependence on God (Catholic News Service 10/8/05)
Jewish author defends Pope Pius XII in new book (Catholic News Agency 11/8/05)
Famous Italian soprano praises Benedict XVI
Imitate children, Pope encourages faithful (Catholic World News 11/8/05)
Chinese delegation again at papal audience (Catholic World News 11/8/05)

12 Aug 2005