The Holy See
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Rheinenergie Stadium, Cologne
Tuesday, 16 Augus 2005


Dear Sisters, Dear Brothers,

"A warm welcome to the Archdiocese of Cologne!". We are glad that you have come.

We are celebrating the first World Youth Day with two Popes: with Pope John Paul II in Heaven and with our Pope Benedict XVI here on earth. It will be a great celebration of faith!

Three weeks before he died, the Holy Father permitted me to visit him at the Gemelli Polyclinic and asked me: "Are you still expecting me in Cologne?". I answered: "Holy Father, we are calmly waiting".

Let us now say to Heaven: "Holy Father John Paul II, we are waiting for you!", and let us say to Rome: "Holy Father Benedict XVI, we are waiting for you!".

With the Peter of yesterday, John Paul II, and the Peter of today, Benedict XVI, with us, we will be strengthened on our journey of faith, for the Lord said to Peter: "Strengthen your brothers" (Lk 22: 32).

Young people are far closer than the elderly to the beginning of their lives. Therefore, in youth, more than in others, the origin of their lives through God's hand is powerfully and intensely active in their quest for a true and authentic life.

Those who, in the context of this seeking, give young people less than God, always give them too little.

This desire for a successful life has brought you to Cologne, where we learn from those who were the first to seek God, the Three Magi.

Two years ago, with regard to the World Youth Day in Cologne, Pope John Paul II cited what the Evangelist Matthew said about the Three Wise Men: "We have come to worship him" (cf. Mt 2: 2).
No life can be tested

Each one of us has one life. There is no "trial" period that is exempt from responsibility.

Consequently, there is no life, love, faith or death that can be tested. We are always at a stage of emergency. We always have full responsibility.

Today, there is no need for me to tell you what you know intuitively, that is, about your origin, that you came into being through the creative hand of God. This unites you with all the young people in the world.

In these days you are not meeting one another as strangers, but as relatives and travelling companions: "relatives" because you share the same origin through God's hands, and "travelling companions" because your desire for a meaningful and useful life, for a life with God, has led you on the same route.

To worship means no more and no less than to set out like the Three Wise Men at God's eye level and to kneel before God, before the Infant in the manger.

God made himself small so as to be in our lives and in our personal destinies. However, we ignore him if we go through life "without minding where we put our feet".

In the washing of the feet, he is beneath the feet of his disciples. God is below. Kneeling to adore him does not make human beings small but great, because it brings them to God's eye level.

The same desire for goodness, purity and beauty dwells within us all. Why? Because we are made in the image of God who personifies the maximum good and the maximum purity.

Therefore, no one can want to be bad, impure or ugly. A hunger for love exists in all of us.

To the question, "Would you like not to be loved?" a non-believer answered me: "That would indeed be hell!".

How could he have responded in this way without having received any religious teaching? Because all human beings come forth from the hand of God, and from this origin derive a hidden knowledge of God from which they draw their likeness to him. And since God never abandons any human beings, even if they turn away from him, he is always available for the origin and purpose of their lives.

St Augustine already knew this 1,600 years ago and wrote: "Our heart is restless until it rests in you".

Two thousand years ago, the innate, magnetic force of God impelled the Three Wise Men to seek Christ, and today it has brought you to Cologne to seek and find Christ, who guarantees you a great future and a full life.

There is no alternative to Christ. When certain young people broke away, upset by Jesus' words, and followed him no longer, he asked those who had remained: "Do you want to leave me too?", and it was Simon Peter who gave him the answer, the first and the shortest profession of faith to be found in Sacred Scripture: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6: 68).

The Lord says to us: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (Jn 6: 44).

Dear brothers and sisters, you have been drawn by the Father. This is the basic reason why you are in Cologne. It is the result of an action full of God's grace.

And I give you my word of honour: he will reign through you; for you will be the blessing of your surroundings, of your homeland and of the world, since by your commitment you will transform distance from God into closeness to God. Then the world will continue to be an inhabitable place for human beings as children of God.

Therefore, young pilgrims from across the world, you are the future of the Church and the future of the world, because you are children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ and living temples of the Holy Spirit.

The world does not live exclusively on productivity, refrigerators, missiles and the like; it lives above all on its union with the living God and therefore with the source of its life. World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne is not an exclusively Catholic event but is addressed to the whole world. Christ is not a Christian administrator but is the Lord of the world.

In these days, let us not only seek Christ because we want him for ourselves but also because we want him for our sisters and brothers, to whom we desire to give the happiness of faith in Christ.