Germany has been looking forward to this visit for a long time. It is Pope Benedict’s first foreign trip and it is to the city of Cologne for the World Youth Day Festival.
While known as a respected theologian with a great intellect, it is reported that Benedict is not as comfortable with the limelight as his predecessor. This current festival is the creation of the late John Paul II
But youngsters from almost 200 countries around the world were earlier getting ready to give the 78-year old a hearty welcome although the anticipation was mixed with intense curiosity about the new Pope.
One youngster said: ““We’re going to head off to the river to wait for the Pope and we’ll praise God joyfully and thank him for the great gift he has given us.”
Another said: “We’ve only know John Paul as Pope. It is exciting to have a new one, hopefully with the same energy – someone we can love as much.”
During the festivities, Vatican watchers will be looking for signals on how the Pope aims to keep Catholics loyal to the Church and the relations he intends to forge with other faiths.