More on Benedict’s first major public appearance – World Youth Day in Colgne – at Chisea.
To the million young people gathered from 197 countries for four days in the city that keeps the relics of the Magi – even to those of little faith and the non-baptized – Benedict XVI preached “the inconceivable greatness of a God who humbled himself even to appearing in a manger, to giving himself as food on the altar.”
One of his other early statements was that the pope “must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.”
And he kept this promise, too. From August 18-21 in Cologne, Benedict XVI did not bestow upon the crowd a mere theatrical gesture, or nothing more than a striking phrase. He led the young people to look, not at him, but always and only at the true protagonist: that Jesus whom the Magi adored in Bethlehem, the “House of Bread,” and who is now concealed in the consecrated host.
Joseph Razinger took a big risk in Cologne. Cardinal Angleo Scola, one of the many bishops who came to catechize the young people during the first three days of the vigil with the pope, thought he would win them over with a ten-minute recitation from “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. Benedict XVI, on the other hand, challenged everyone’s attention span with a difficult explanation of “the different nuances of the word ‘adoration’ in Greek and in Latin. The Greek word is ‘proskynesis’. It refers to the gesture of submission, the recognition of God as our true measure. […] The Latin word is ‘ad-oratio’, mouth to mouth contact, a kiss, an embrace, and hence ultimately love. Submission becomes union, because he to whom we submit is love.”
I saw a bit of the ceremonies and speeches on TV and found Benedict to be keenly intelligent and kindly. His German was so clear that I could understand parts of it without waiting for the translation. He was also able to speak in many different languages, which was impressive in itself. I love his confidence in youth’s ability to rise to a challenge and wish him well.