Making the first international trip of his pontificate, Benedict XVI has been greeted by hundreds of thousands of cheering young Catholics. Back in his native Germany, he will spend four days in the city of Cologne, joining worshippers from all over the world in a major youth festival. Crowds massed on both sides of the Rhine to see the Pope as he travelled in a boat down the river.
It was just one of the highlights of the visit, which is seen as a test for Benedict. A quiet intellectual, he is stepping into the shoes of the man who launched the World Youth Day event in the 1980s and dominated it like a superstar – the charismatic John Paul II. Addressing those gathered, the Pope paid warm tribute to his predecessor. “He loved you,” he said. “You realized that and you returned his love with all your youthful enthusiasm.Now all of us together have to put his teaching into practice.” The Pope will also meet Protestant, Muslim and Jewish leaders during the trip.