Karl-Heinz Merfeld, General Manager of the Cologne Tourist Board
Köln Tourismus GmbH
Unter Fettenhennen 19
Tel.: +49 (0)221 / 221 - 22008
Fax: +49 (0)221 / 221 - 23311
World Youth Day
World Youth Day was born in 1985, after Pope John Paul II had invited the Catholic youth of the world to travel to Rome for Palm Sunday. After that gathering of young people, the Pope declared that World Youth Day should become a regular event. The first international World Youth Day took place in Buenos Aires in 1987. Following events took place in Santiago di Compostela, Denver, Manila, Paris and Toronto. In 1991 young Catholics came together in the Polish city of Czestochowa to celebrate the end of a divided Europe. The 2005 celebrations, which take place in Cologne from 11 to 21 August, will be attended by Pope Benedict XVI. It will be the Pope’s first visit to his homeland since becoming head of the Catholic Church.
Cologne City Hall
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|This article was published in July 2005, before the Pope's visit to Cologne
Cologne ready to welcome Pope Benedict XVI
and hundreds of thousands of young Catholics
Gregor Gosciniak interviewed Karl-Heinz Merfeld, Head of Cologne Tourism
4 July 2005: Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest city, will host the 2005 Catholic World Youth Day and welcome Pope Benedict XVI on his first visit to his homeland since being elected head of the Catholic Church. Originally, organisers forecast some 800,000 visitors but, with the election of the first German Pope in 500 years, the number of pilgrims, visitors and journalists could be above one million. City Mayors’ German correspondent Gregor Gosciniak spoke to Karl-Heinz Merfeld, General Manager of the Cologne Tourist Board, and asked him why the city was chosen to host the 20th World Youth Day, how prepared it was for the hundreds of thousands of visitors and whether the event would provide any long-term benefits.
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
By Hyde Flippo
On 19 April 2005, 78-year-old German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI (Papst Benedikt XVI). No one was more surprised to see a German pope than the Germans themselves. His strict religious views are also nowhere more controversial than in the new pope's homeland, which generally takes a liberal stance in religious matters. (Germany is about evenly divided between Catholics and Protestants, few of whom ever set foot in a church.) Pope Benedict XVI is not the first Bavarian to become pope, but the Bavarian Pope Damasus II held his post for only a month, dying of malaria in 1048.
The successor to John Paul II was born in the small Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn on 16 April 1927. His father was a local policeman.
Young Ratzinger was drafted into the German army during World War II, but he deserted and ended up in an Allied POW camp before he was released. Only six years after the end of the war, Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a Catholic priest on 29 June 1951 in the diocese of Munich/Freising. In March 1977 he was appointed Archbishop of Munich, being elevated to cardinal only a few months later.
Ratzinger has also been a professor of theology at several German universities. He held professorships in Bonn, Münster, Tübingen, and Regensburg (in Bavaria). It was at Tübingen that Ratzinger moved to a more conservative position in his political/religious viewsin reaction to the liberal and Marxist tendencies he saw there in the late 1960s.
Cardinal Ratzinger moved up consistently and rapidly in the Catholic hierarchy. He is only one of 14 remaining cardinals appointed by Pope Paul VI, but he became one of John Paul II's most trusted confidants. Many observers consider his election as pope a sign of the church's desire to continue the policies of John Paul II. Ratzinger has published about a dozen books related to Catholic theology, and he speaks several languages besides his native German, including Italian and English.
Joseph Ratzinger is the first German pope in about 500 years (depending on how you define "German"). To find previous German popes, you have to go back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Most of the German popes served short terms, dying of disease or being eliminated in papal cabals. Gregor V (996-999) was the first of seven German popes who served up until 1523, when Hadrian VI died. Pope Hadrian VI considered himself German, although he was born in Utrecht, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (das Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation). After that, all the popes were Italian until John Paul II, and now Benedict XVI.