Archbishop Expects 1 Million for 2005 Youth Day

«Everything is Almost Ready,» He Says

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COLOGNE, Germany, MAY 12, 2005 ( The archbishop of Cologne estimates that close to one million young people will participate in the 20th World Youth Day with Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner said to the Spanish newspaper La Razon on Wednesday that there is reason to believe that participation will exceed the official estimate of 800,000.

«I think that now, as we are going to have two Popes — one in heaven and the other on earth — I am certain that one million young people will come,» he said.

«Close to four million people went to Rome» for John Paul II’s burial, «many of them young people.» When «Habemus Papam» was announced upon the election of Benedict XVI, 80% of those present were youths, observed the cardinal. «I am convinced we can count on one million young people,» he added.

«This day is not a ceremony of the Church in Germany, but a ceremony of the Pope. It is his World Youth Day. This year it is being celebrated under a specific theme — the three wise men’s worship of Jesus Christ,» he continued.

«We have come to worship him» (Matthew 2:2), the theme of WYD 2005, «is a theme that allows the youths of each continent to cover ideally the itinerary of the wise kings, whose relics are venerated, according to a pious tradition, precisely» in Cologne «and to find, like them, the Messiah of all nations,» said John Paul II in his message to young people in preparation for WYD.

We were «in a very difficult situation,» said the cardinal, referring to the deteriorating health of John Paul II.

«We didn’t know what would happen with the ailing Pope. What program could we offer him? A large program, then a smaller one, and then a very small one.»

There has been a return «to the original large program,» he said. «Everything is almost ready.»

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