WYD pilgrims arriving in Cologne

Thousands of young Catholics have arrived in Germany for today's commencement of World Youth Day festivities, which Pope Benedict XVI hopes will create "a new wave of faith among young people".

AFP reports that the pope himself will fly into the western city of Cologne on Thursday in his first visit abroad since his election in April. His visit will culminate in an open-air mass on Sunday which is expected to attract 800,000 worshippers from 193 countries.

With the event due to start today, thousands of young pilgrims from across the globe were taking up accommodation in the Cologne area.

An estimated 400,000 were expected to have arrived by the time the event begins with three masses, in Cologne and the nearby cities of Bonn and Duesseldorf.

A fleet of coaches meanwhile carried young French pilgrims to a site near Cologne for a mass yesterday of 3500 Parisians to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption.

The pope said he hopes the event will inject new impetus into the faith of Christians in Europe where church attendance is in steady decline. He told Vatican Radio on Sunday he wanted the World Youth Day to create "a wave of new faith among young people, especially the youth in Germany and Europe".

"If this zest, this joy, to know Christ would come alive again and give the Church in Germany and Europe a new dynamic, then I think the aim of World Youth Day would be achieved."

"Some are hoping for a big party, others are longing for a 'father' who takes them seriously and points the way with a clear position."

During his visit to Cologne, the pope will become only the second leader of the Catholic Church to visit a synagogue, underlining his desire to improve relations with Jews. John Paul II became the first pope to enter a synagogue, in Rome, in 1986.

He will also hold talks with Muslim leaders before presiding at a Saturday night vigil at the Marienfeld park outside Cologne, followed by the huge open-air mass at the same venue on Sunday.

With this northern summer's terrorist attacks in London fresh on the authorities' minds, 4000 police will be deployed in Cologne. In addition, around 4000 private security guards will be on duty during the pope's four-day stay, as well as the Vatican-based Swiss Guard.

World's young Catholics converge on Germany (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo 16/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day - Australia
World Youth Day - International
World Youth Day - Vatican

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Dublin youngsters join Cologne pilgrimage (Irish Times 14/8/05)
Pope Benedict XVI to grant World Youth Day indulgences (catholicireland.net 15/8/05)
World Youth Day: A Chance For The Catholic Church To Shine On The World Media Stage (Catholic Report)
Pope reaches out to youth (Monsters and Critics/United Press International 15/8/05)
45,000 French Catholics head for Cologne (Monsters and Critics/United Press International 15/8/05)
Pope: Faith is not all about rules (The Scotsman 15/8/05)
Pope: Youths in Cologne, follow the martyrs' heroic example (AsiaNews.it 15/8/05)
Bendict XVI: Mary, a sign of hope for youths of the WYD (AsiaNews.it 15/8/05)
The first interview with Benedict XVI: Youths, it's beautiful to be Christians! (AsiaNews.it 15/8/05)
Pope says he hopes to communicate Christianity's joy to WYD pilgrims (Catholic News Service 15/8/05)
Pope grants first interview, speaks on WYD, Christian joy, the crisis in Europe (Catholic News Agency 15/8/05)
Pope calls for prayers for success of WYD (Catholic News Agency 15/8/05)
24,000 U.S. youth among those flooding Germany for World Youth Day (Catholic News Agency 15/8/05)
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High Spirits at Volunteers' Mass (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 14/8/05)
Five Local FM frequencies for Marienfeld Translations (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 15/8/05)
The Youth at WYD - reprint of a "Spiegel" article (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 15/8/05)
City of Cologne: 130 Euros for a "Papal Photo Point" (World Youth Day Independent News/stern1.de 15/8/05)
Traditional Latin Mass is given a new lease of life (London Telegraph 15/8/05)
Faith not stale food: Pope (Reuters/The Australian 15/8/05)
All eyes on Pope's first foreign jaunt (London Times/The Australian 16/8/05)
Thousands of Brits set for Cologne (The Universe 15/8/05)
Pope Benedict's first visit home as pontiff (The Universe 15/8/05)
German parishes make final touches after two years' work (The Universe 15/8/05)

16 Aug 2005