COLOGNE, Germany, AUG. 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Addressing some 800,000 youths at the World Youth Day vigil, Benedict XVI highlighted the “true revolution” which comes from God and is able to transform the world.
Greeted with the same enthusiasm and applause as his predecessor Pope John Paul II, who initiated the youth days, Benedict XVI explained on Saturday night that saints “are the true reformers.”
“Only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world,” he said during the address which he delivered in German, English, Spanish, French and Italian.
Among the saints the Holy Father proposed as models of life were St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Charles Borromeo, the founders of 19th-century religious orders who inspired and guided the social movement.
He also mentioned more modern figures such as St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Edith Stein, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. Padre Pio.
During his address, which was interrupted various times with applause, Benedict XVI recalled that in the 20th century “we experienced revolutions with a common program: Expecting nothing more from God, they assumed total responsibility for the cause of the world in order to change it.”
“And this, as we saw, meant that a human and partial point of view was always taken as an absolute guiding principle. Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism,” he said from the top of the artificial hill built for the occasion at the Marienfeld esplanade, some 27 kilometers (17 miles) from Cologne.
Back to God
“It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true,” the Pope said.
“True revolution consists in simply turning to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from that love?” he asked.
The Holy Father acknowledged that “there is much that could be criticized in the Church. We know this and the Lord himself told us so: It is a net with good fish and bad fish, a field with wheat and darnel.”
“Pope John Paul II, as well as revealing the true face of the Church in the many saints that he canonized, also asked pardon for the wrong that was done in the course of history through the words and deeds of members of the Church,” he said.
“It is actually consoling to realize that there is darnel in the Church. In this way, despite all our defects, we can still hope to be counted among the disciples of Jesus, who came to call sinners,” the Bishop of Rome added.
Benedict XVI continued: “The Church is like a human family, but at the same time it is also the great family of God, through which he establishes an overarching communion and unity that embraces every continent, culture and nation.
“Here in Cologne we discover the joy of belonging to a family as vast as the world, including heaven and earth, the past, the present, the future and every part of the earth.”
Some of the musical compositions played during the vigil were songs of the ecumenical Community of Taizé, whose founder, Brother Roger, was murdered by a mentally unstable woman last Tuesday.
During the meeting a girl from Germany and a boy from the Holy Land presented “the light of Bethlehem,” lit in place of Christ’s birth during Christmas 2004. Some 12,000 candles surrounded the altar, making that night a “festival of light.”
After the meeting, the majority of young people stayed overnight in the esplanade, singing songs, talking, making new friendships and trying to sleep.
A translation of the full text of Benedict XVI’s address appeared in ZENIT’s Saturday dispatch. See www.zenit.org.