COLOGNE, Germany, AUG. 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI, addressing his first throng of young people gathered for World Youth Day, assured them that the happiness they seek has a name: Jesus of Nazareth.
“Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity!” the Pope said today when reading a carefully prepared message from the RhineEnergie cruise ship, sailing on the Rhine River.
In a festive atmosphere, and waving flags from countries of all the continents, young people heard the Holy Father’s words from the ship itself or from the banks of the river.
“Dear young people,” the Bavarian-born Pontiff said, “the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: It is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist.”
“Be completely convinced of this: Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world,” he affirmed in the address, passages of which he read in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian.
“Whatever the cost”
On board the ship was an orchestra that, in moments of silence, played prayerful songs, some composed by the ecumenical Community of Taizé. Young people dressed in their countries’ natives costumes surrounded the Pope, who was accompanied by several cardinals and bishops.
Five ships, carrying young people from each of the world’s continents, escorted the Pope’s vessel.
“In these days I encourage you to commit yourselves without reserve to serving Christ, whatever the cost,” exhorted the Holy Father.
“The encounter with Jesus Christ will allow you to experience in your hearts the joy of his living and life-giving presence, and enable you to bear witness to it before others,” affirmed Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father greeted “those among you who have not been baptized, and those of you who do not yet know Christ or have not yet found a home in his Church.”
Addressing all those present, the Pontiff added: “Let yourselves be surprised by Christ! Let him have ‘the right of free speech’ during these days! Open the doors of your freedom to his merciful love!”
During the 10 kilometers of the ship’s journey, the Holy Father stood up several times to greet those welcoming him with enthusiasm as he passed by.
After disembarking at the Hohenzollernbruecke pier, the Pope went to Cologne’s Cathedral with the youths carrying the World Youth Day cross. According to a pious tradition, since 1164, the cathedral has housed the relics of the Wise Kings.