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Pope Benedict to round off World Youth Day festivities

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Pope Benedict to round off World Youth Day festivities


Pope Benedict XVI concludes his first major trip abroad today. The visit to Cologne for the World Youth Day festival has been described as a big success for the pontiff, both in terms of reaching out to young people and to other faiths. At Saturday evening prayers at the huge Marienfeld site, Benedict said there was much to criticise in the church, but he added that that should not discourage the faithful.

He kept his homily general in content and steered away from specific issues such as sexual morality and homosexuality on which his predecessor John Paul II frequently spoke out. An estimated 700,000 people attended, and many have spent the night under the stars in anticipation of Sunday mass. Benedict’s programme has been demanding – leading prayers, meeting Germany’s political leaders and representatives of the Jewish, Protestant and Muslim communities. A day after his well-received visit to Cologne’s synagogue, the pontiff said Christians and Muslims should “close the book on the black chapters of their common history”, and work together to defeat terrorism.
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