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Spiritual Program for Youth Day Released

Will Put Young People "In Shape to Be Christians"

World Youth Day 2005 will offer a series of spiritual proposals to young people who will meet with Benedict XVI in Cologne this August.

Father Ulrich Hennes, secretary of the organization of World Youth Day (WYD), presented this week in a press conference the main points of the spiritual program - catechesis, spiritual centers, pilgrimages to the cathedral, a reconciliation center - which must put young people "in shape to be Christians."

Pope John Paul II addressed his "beloved German-speaking friends" when taking leave of the young people who participated in WYD 2002 in Toronto.

"In a special way," the Pope had said, "you must maintain alive the spirit of World Youth Day, in order to prepare yourselves for Cologne in 2005. Work to build a civilization of love and justice. Let your light lead many others to Christ's kingdom of holiness, truth and justice."

The current program is an attempt "to realize the Pope's vision and contribute to build a world of peace and justice," said Father Hennes.

According to what has been organized so far in Cologne, 248 churches will host the catecheses given in some 30 languages by bishops from all over the world. Among the designated churches, there are seven that are evangelical and one Orthodox.

There will be 30 debates on the faith in stadiums, sports pavilions and universities.

Following the Wise Men

A pilgrimage is planned to take place through the city and along the Rhine, to the cathedral. "In the span of three days, 400,000 people will have visited the shrine of the Three Wise Kings," said Father Hennes.

To this end, the cathedral will be cleared and remain open from 6 a.m. to midnight.

The disabled will also take part in the pilgrimage, which will end with a Eucharistic celebration in Cologne's Tanzbrunnen, an open-air theater used in the summer.

From Aug. 16-20, spiritual centers will be open around-the-clock in Cologne, Bonn and Dusseldorf. Young people will be able to go there to "deepen their spirituality," said Father Josef Funk, of the WYD committee. They will be run by the Taizé Ecumenical Community and the Chemin Neuf (New Way) movement.

A reconciliation center will be prepared in Cologne's market where, from Aug. 17-19, from 8 a.m. to midnight. More than 100 priests will be available to hear confessions in 30 languages.

The theme of WYD 2005 is "We Have Come to Worship Him" (Matthew 2:2), "a theme that enables young people of each continent to cover ideally the itinerary of the Wise Kings, whose relics are venerated, according to a pious tradition" in Cologne "and, like them, to find the Messiah of all nations," said John Paul II in his message to young people in preparation for the event.

ZEN - Zenit (3. juni 2005)