Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have gathered in Cologne for a mass vigil held by Pope Benedict XVI. About 400,000 Christians have gathered for the World Youth Day festival set up by Benedict’s predecessor – and they will attend the prayers. Double that number are expected for a final mass before the Pontiff leaves Germany tomorrow. Earlier in the day, Germany’s top political figures met with the Pope on the third day of a visit to his homeland. Gerhard Schroeder met with the head of the Catholic Church in the city of Cologne. A little while later the Chancellor’s political rival Angela Merkel who is President of the Christian Democrat Union was greeted by the Pontiff.Brazilian football star Pele also exchanged a few words with Benedict XVI. Much like the Pope, the soccer icon has received a rapturous welcome from the Catholic youth gathered for the festival. But not everyone in Cologne is pleased at the Pontiff’s arrival. Those holding a counter demonstration criticise the Church for being too out of touch and have called on it to modernise. Following a historic trip to a synagogue on Friday the Pope also met with Muslim leaders to stress the importance of closer ties with other faiths.
Catholics attend evening prayer vigil with Pope