Benedict to use Cologne visit to 'spark wave of new faith' worldwide
Tuesday 16 August 2005
On Thursday, the Pope, 78, will arrive in the Rhineland city of Cologne to attend World Youth Day, a large and meticulously organised Catholic festival which is expected to attract more than half a million mainly young people from Germany and abroad.
The visit will be the German Pontiff's first foreign trip since he was elected in April. In an interview with Vatican Radio yesterday he said he hoped his appearance would "spark a wave of new faith among young people".
However, much of Germany's media poured cold water on the Pope's aspirations. Der Spiegel devoted its front cover to the visit and carried the headline: "Believers - desperately sought. The Pope's homecoming to an un-Christian country."
The magazine also published a poll in which Germans were asked to name whom they most trusted. The police topped the list, followed by Aldi, the country's largest cut-price supermarket chain, and, only then, the Pope. Among non-believing Germans, only 18 per cent said that they trusted the Pope.
Some of the difficulty stems from the reputation Benedict earned in Germany prior to his election. As Cardinal Joseph Ratz-inger, he was known as a severe enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy - at odds with modern Germans and their acceptance of birth control, homosexuality and sex outside marriage.
The other problem is a steady decline in the number of people attending mass. Hundreds of Catholic, and Protestant, churches have been turned into shops, pubs and cinemas in attempts to find worthwhile uses for the buildings.
The dilemma has worsened since reunification and the addition to the population of some 17 million Communist-educated and largely agnostic or atheist former East Germans.
"This country trains more orthopaedic shoe manufacturers and horse grooms than Catholic priests," said Der Spiegel. "In the east German city of Magdeburg, only 8 per cent of the new-born are baptised," it added.
Young Germans are likely to be in a minority at World Youth Day with most attendees from the Catholic heartlands of Spain, Italy and France.
"For most young people, a Nike sport shoe says more about a person than membership of the church," said Matthias Sellmann, a specialist in Catholic ethics. "The church is dealing with a generation that communicates with symbols and not through concepts, discourse and agendas."
The Pope's appearance in the Alps this summer, when he was seen wearing "Serengeti" sunglasses, a baseball cap and a Cartier watch, is unlikely to persuade World Youth Day participants of any new-found ability to communicate with the younger generation.
For many young Germans, the Pope remains the prime advocate of deeply unfashionable Catholic orthodoxy. "I go to church when I feel the need to," said a 20-year-old woman who will be attending the celebrations in Cologne. "I don't go there to get lectured at for an hour by somebody who is far too old."
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Ottawa shootings: Terror strikes Canadian capital as attacks leave one soldier and one suspect dead
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Main Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Maths Teacher Required This Catholi...
(?19,817 ? ?21,734)Pro Rata: Randstad Education Leeds: Behaviour Support Assis...
£21 - £22 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Randstad Education has been help...
£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently seeking dy...