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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Germany Restored with Arrival of Native Pope

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Germany with throngs of youth awaiting him at the airport along with German Church and political officials. Disembarking the Alitalia plane, the pope was greeted by a swift wind which stole his zucchetto (small, white skullcap), but the warmth of the crowd was more than enough to compensate.
The city itself is a unmistakable reminder of Europe's indelible Christian roots. The city emblem contains three crowns representative of the Three Kings or Three Wise Men who at the time of Christ's birth journeyed to Bethlehem to adore the newborn King. The relics of the Wise Men are kept in Cologne's Cathedral.
Addressing those gathered at the airport to greet him, Pope Benedict said, "During this World Youth Day we will reflect together on the theme: 'We Have Come To Worship Him' (Mt 2:2). This is a precious opportunity for thinking more deeply about the meaning of life as a 'pilgrimage,' guided by a 'star,' in search of the Lord. Together we shall consider the Magi, who, coming from various distant lands, were among the first to recognize the promised Messiah in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the Virgin Mary, and to bow down in worship before Him (cf. Mt 2:1-12).... Like the Magi, all believers — and young people in particular — have been called to set out on the journey of life in search of truth, justice and love. The ultimate goal of the journey can only be found through an encounter with Christ, an encounter which cannot take place without faith." (See the full address here.)
The pope proceeded to the Rhine River where he was greeted by thousands of pilgrims lining the banks as he addressed them. He spoke of his "delight" and "great joy" in meeting the youth there and also of the "great" Pope John Paul II who called them all to be there.
"That great pope understood the challenges faced by young people today and, as a sign of his trust in them, he did not hesitate to spur them on to be courageous heralds of the Gospel and intrepid builders of the civilization of truth, love and peace," said Pope Benedict. "Today it is my turn to take up this extraordinary spiritual legacy bequeathed to us by Pope John Paul II. He loved you — you realized that and you returned his love with all your youthful enthusiasm. Now all of us together have to put his teaching into practice. It is this commitment which has brought us here to Cologne, as pilgrims in the footsteps of the Magi." (See the full address here.)
After visiting the Cathedral of Cologne, the pope once again addressed the youth, telling them to be like the Three Kings of old, a beacon directing all to Christ. "Let yourselves be inflamed by the fire of the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost will renew your hearts," he said. "Through you, may other young people everywhere come to recognize in Christ the true answer to their deepest aspirations, and may they open their hearts to receive the Word of God Incarnate, Who died and rose from the dead for the salvation of the world." (See the full address here.)
All were looking up expectantly, watching for the appearance of the native son of Germany, returning to his native homeland as the new Pope Benedict XVI. A sign of just how important this event is to the world is the enormous presence of the world press — TV, radio and newspapers. The Press Center is large enough to accommodate 7500 journalists and huge amounts of equipment. Having the pope chosen from any country is a great honor, but how much more to have your pope return to visit his and your homeland.
Of the hundreds of journalists typing in the Press Centre one soft-spoken young man in his early thirties took time to explain why having this happen in Germany is far more important than having this happen in any other country. He explained "During the last half-century the young people of Germany have borne a terrible burden. We have been stigmatized as having caused the world's worst tragedy and it has weighed heavily upon us. But now Germany has raised itself. It has raised a pope! We can once again hold our heads high. Now The Holy Father is returning to the Fatherland and Germany rejoices. I am a Protestant, but like all Germans I am happy and jubilant."
Back in 1945 the world would have thought this phenomenon to be impossible, just as today the election of a Muslim pope in the year 2070 would seem impossible. But with God, all things are possible.
(This update courtesy of

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