Speeches 2005-13 18085


Mr President of the Republic,
Distinguished Political and Civil Authorities,
Your Eminences and Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Citizens of the Federal Republic,
My Dear Young People,

Today, with deep joy I find myself for the first time after my election to the Chair of Peter in my beloved Homeland, in Germany. I can only repeat what I stated at an interview with Vatican Radio. I consider it a loving gesture of reconciliation since, quite unintentionally, my first Visit outside of Italy should be to my Homeland: Here in Cologne, at a moment, in a place and on an occasion when the young people of all the world are meeting, from all the continents, in which the frontiers between the continents, cultures, races, nations disappear, in order that we may all be one thanks to the star that has shone for us: the star of faith in Jesus Christ, which unites us and shows us the way so that we can all be a great force for peace beyond all frontiers and all divisions.

I thank God for this with deep emotion, that he has enabled me to begin here in my Country and on such a propitious occasion for peace.

Therefore, as you have said, Mr President, I have come to Cologne in very deep continuity with my great and beloved Predecessor John Paul II, who had this intuition - I should say this inspiration - of the World Youth Days, in this way creating not a single event of exceptional religious and ecclesial meaning, but also human, which takes people beyond the borderlines between one and the other and contributes to building a common future.

I am sincerely grateful to all present for the warm welcome given to me. My respectful greeting goes first to the President of the Federal Republic, Mr Horst Köhler, whom I thank for the gracious words of welcome which he addressed to me with all his heart. I did not know an economist could also be a philosopher and a theologian! My heartfelt thanks.

I also express my respectful and grateful thought to the Representatives of the Government, the Members of the Diplomatic Corps and the civil and military Authorities, the Federal Chancellor, the President of Nordrhein-Westfalen, all the Authorities present here.

With fraternal affection I greet the Pastor of the Archdiocese of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner. My greeting also goes to the other Bishops, with the President of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Lehmann, the priests, men and women religious, and to all those engaged in various pastoral activities in the German-speaking Dioceses.

At this moment I also wish to greet with affection all those living in the different Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In these days of intense preparation for World Youth Day, the Dioceses of Germany, and the Diocese and City of Cologne in particular, have been enlivened by the presence of very many young people from different parts of the world. I thank all those who have so competently and generously helped to organize this worldwide ecclesial event.

I am grateful to the parishes, religious institutes, associations, civil organizations and private citizens who have thoughtfully offered hospitality and so friendly a welcome to the thousands of pilgrims coming here from different continents. It is a fine thing that on such occasions the virtue of hospitality, which has almost disappeared and is one of man's original virtues, should be renewed and enable people of all states of life to meet.

The Church in Germany and the People of the German Federal Republic can be proud of their long tradition of openness to the global community; among other things, this is seen in their many initiatives of solidarity, particularly on behalf of developing countries.

In this spirit of esteem and acceptance towards all those who come from different cultures and traditions, we are about to experience World Youth Day in Cologne. That so many young people have come to meet the Successor of Peter is a sign of the Church's vitality. I am happy to be with them, to confirm their faith and, God willing, to enliven their hope.

At the same time, I am sure that I will also receive something from the young people, the fact that their enthusiasm, their sensitivity and their readiness will sustain me and give me the courage to continue my journey in the service of the Church as the Successor of Peter and to face the challenges of the future.

To all of you present here, and all those who have welcomed people from other parts of the world in these event-filled days, I now express my most cordial greeting.

In addition to intense moments of prayer, reflection and celebration with them and with all those taking part in the various scheduled events, I will have an opportunity to meet the Bishops, to whom even now I extend my fraternal greeting. I will also meet the representatives of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. I shall be honoured to make a Visit to the Synagogue, which I have very much at heart, for a meeting with the Jewish community, and also to welcome the representatives of some Islamic communities.

These meetings are important steps to intensify the journey of dialogue and cooperation in our shared commitment to building a more just and fraternal future, a future which is truly more human. We all know how necessary it is to seek this path, how much we need this dialogue and this cooperation.

During this World Youth Day we will reflect together on the theme: "We have come to worship him" (
Mt 2,2). This is a precious opportunity for thinking more deeply about the meaning of human life as a "pilgrimage", a journey guided by a "star", in search of the Lord.

Together we shall consider the Magi, who would never have thought to become pilgrims even after death, nor that one day their relics would be carried in pilgrimage to Cologne. We shall look to these personages who, coming from different lands, were among the first to recognize the promised Messiah in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the Virgin Mary, and to bow down in worship before him (cf. Mt 2,1-12).

The Ecclesial Community and the city of Cologne have a special link with these emblematic figures. Like the Magi, all believers - and young people in particular - have been called to set out on the journey of life in search of truth, justice and love. We must seek this star, we must follow it. The ultimate goal of the journey can only be found through an encounter with Christ, an encounter which cannot take place without faith.

Along this interior journey we can be guided by the many signs with which a long and rich Christian tradition has indelibly marked this Land of Germany: from great historical monuments to countless works of art found throughout the Country, from documents preserved in libraries to lively popular traditions, from philosophical inquiry to the theological reflection of her many great thinkers, from the spiritual traditions to the mystical experience of a vast array of saints.

Here we find a very rich cultural and spiritual heritage which even today, in the heart of Europe, testifies to the fruitfulness of the Christian faith and tradition which we must rekindle, because it has within it new strength for the future.

The Diocese and the region of Cologne, in particular, keep the living memory of great witnesses who, as it were, are present in the pilgrimage begun by the three Magi. I think of St Boniface, St Ursula, St Albert the Great, and, in more recent times, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and Bl. Adolph Kolping.

These, our illustrious brothers and sisters in the faith, who down the centuries have held high the torch of holiness, have become people who have seen the star and have shown it to others. May these figures be "models" and "patrons" of this meeting of ours, of the World Youth Day.

While to all of you here present I renew my deep gratitude for your gracious welcome, I pray to the Lord for the future of the Church and of society as a whole in this Federal Republic of Germany, so dear to me. May this Country's long history and her great social, economic and cultural attainments be an incentive to renewed commitment on your journey at a time when new problems and issues are also facing the other peoples of the Continent.

May the Virgin Mary, who presented the Child Jesus to the Magi when they arrived in Bethlehem to worship the Saviour, continue to intercede for us, just as for centuries she has kept watch over the German People from her many shrines throughout the German Länder.

May the Lord bless everyone here present, together with all the pilgrims and all who live in this Land.

May God protect the Federal Republic of Germany!

WELCOMING THE YOUNG PEOPLE Cologne - Poller Wiesen Thursday, 18 August 2005

Dear Young People,

I am delighted to meet you here in Cologne on the banks of the Rhine! You have come from various parts of Germany, Europe and the rest of the world as pilgrims in the footsteps of the Magi.

Following their route, you too want to find Jesus. Like them, you have begun this journey in order to contemplate, both personally and with others, the face of God revealed by the Child in the manger.

Like yourselves, I too have set out to join you in kneeling before the consecrated white Host in which the eyes of faith recognize the Real Presence of the Saviour of the world. Together, we will continue to meditate on the theme of this World Youth Day: "We have come to worship him" (
Mt 2,2).

With great joy I welcome you, dear young people. You have come here from near and far, walking the streets of the world and the pathways of life. My particular greeting goes to those who, like the Magi, have come from the East. You are the representatives of so many of our brothers and sisters who are waiting, without realizing it, for the star to rise in their skies and lead them to Christ, Light of the Nations, in whom they will find the fullest response to their hearts' deepest desires.

I also greet with affection those among you who have not been baptized, and those of you who do not yet know Christ or have not yet found a home in his Church. Pope John Paul II had invited you in particular to come to this gathering; I thank you for deciding to come to Cologne.

Some of you might perhaps describe your adolescence in the words with which Edith Stein, who later lived in the Carmel in Cologne, described her own: "I consciously and deliberately lost the habit of praying". During these days, you can once again have a moving experience of prayer as dialogue with God, the God who we know loves us and whom we in turn wish to love.

To all of you I appeal: Open wide your hearts to God! Let yourselves be surprised by Christ! Let him have "the right of free speech" during these days!

Open the doors of your freedom to his merciful love! Share your joys and pains with Christ, and let him enlighten your minds with his light and touch your hearts with his grace.

In these days blessed with sharing and joy, may you have a liberating experience of the Church as the place where God's merciful love reaches out to all people. In the Church and through the Church you will meet Christ, who is waiting for you.

Today, as I arrived in Cologne to take part with you in the 20th World Youth Day, I naturally recall with deep gratitude the Servant of God so greatly loved by us all, Pope John Paul II, who had the inspired idea of calling young people from all over the world to join in celebrating Christ, the one Redeemer of the human race. Thanks to the profound dialogue which developed over more than 20 years between the Pope and young people, many of them were able to deepen their faith, forge bonds of communion, develop a love for the Good News of salvation in Christ and a desire to proclaim it throughout the world.

That great Pope understood the challenges faced by young people today, and, as a sign of his trust in them, he did not hesitate to spur them on to be courageous heralds of the Gospel and intrepid builders of the civilization of truth, love and peace.

Today, it is my turn to take up this extraordinary spiritual legacy bequeathed to us by Pope John Paul II. He loved you - 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. It is this commitment which has brought us here to Cologne, as pilgrims in the footsteps of the Magi.

According to tradition, the names of the Magi in Greek were Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar. Matthew, in his Gospel, tells of the question which burned in the hearts of the Magi: "Where is the infant king of the Jews?" (Mt 2,2). It was in order to search for him that they set out on the long journey to Jerusalem. This was why they withstood hardships and sacrifices, and never yielded to discouragement or the temptation to give up and go home. Now that they were close to their goal, they had no other question than this.

We too have come to Cologne because in our hearts we have the same urgent question that prompted the Magi from the East to set out on their journey, even if it is differently expressed.

It is true that today we are no longer looking for a king, but we are concerned for the state of the world and we are asking: "Where do I find standards to live by, what are the criteria that govern responsible cooperation in building the present and the future of our world? On whom can I rely? To whom shall I entrust myself? Where is the One who can offer me the response capable of satisfying my heart's deepest desires?".

The fact that we ask questions like these means that we realize our journey is not over until we meet the One who has the power to establish that universal Kingdom of justice and peace to which all people aspire, but which they are unable to build by themselves. Asking such questions also means searching for Someone who can neither deceive nor be deceived, and who therefore can offer a certainty so solid that we can live for it and, if need be, even die for it.

Dear friends, when questions like these appear on the horizon of life, we must be able to make the necessary choices. It is like finding ourselves at a crossroads: which direction do we take? The one prompted by the passions or the one indicated by the star which shines in your conscience?

The Magi heard the answer: "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet" (Mt 2,5), and, enlightened by these words, they chose to press forward to the very end. From Jerusalem they went on to Bethlehem. In other words, they went from the word which showed them where to find the King of the Jews whom they were seeking, all the way to the end, to an encounter with the King who was at the same time the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Those words are also spoken for us. We too have a choice to make. If we think about it, this is precisely our experience when we share in the Eucharist. For in every Mass the liturgy of the Word introduces us to our participation in the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ and hence, introduces us to the Eucharistic Meal, to union with Christ. Present on the altar is the One whom the Magi saw lying in the manger: Christ, the living Bread who came down from heaven to give life to the world, the true Lamb who gives his own life for the salvation of humanity.

Enlightened by the Word, it is in Bethlehem - the "House of Bread" - that we can always encounter the inconceivable greatness of a God who humbled himself even to appearing in a manger, to giving himself as food on the altar.

We can imagine the awe which the Magi experienced before the Child in swaddling clothes. Only faith enabled them to recognize in the face of that Child the King whom they were seeking, the God to whom the star had guided them. In him, crossing the abyss between the finite and the infinite, the visible and the invisible, the Eternal entered time, the Mystery became known by entrusting himself to us in the frail body of a small child.

"The Magi are filled with awe by what they see; heaven on earth and earth in heaven; man in God and God in man; they see enclosed in a tiny body the One whom the entire world cannot contain" (St Peter Chrysologus, Serm. 160, n. 2).

In these days, during this "Year of the Eucharist", we will turn with the same awe to Christ present in the Tabernacle of Mercy, in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist. Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity! With Mary, say your own "yes" to God, for he wishes to give himself to you.

I repeat today what I said at the beginning of my Pontificate: "If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation" (Homily at the Mass of Inauguration, 24 April 2005).

Be completely convinced of this: Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world.

In these days I encourage you to commit yourselves without reserve to serving Christ, whatever the cost. The encounter with Jesus Christ will allow you to experience in your hearts the joy of his living and life-giving presence, and enable you to bear witness to it before others. Let your presence in this city be the first sign and proclamation of the Gospel, thanks to the witness of your actions and your joy.

Let us raise our hearts in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the many blessings he has given us and for the gift of faith which we will celebrate together, making it manifest to the world from this land in the heart of Europe, a Europe which owes so much to the Gospel and its witnesses down the centuries.

And now I shall go as a pilgrim to the Cathedral of Cologne, to venerate the relics of the holy Magi who left everything to follow the star which was guiding them to the Saviour of the human race. You too, dear young people, have already had, or will have, the opportunity to make the same pilgrimage.

These relics are only the poor and frail sign of what those men were and what they experienced so many centuries ago. The relics direct us towards God himself: it is he who, by the power of his grace, grants to weak human beings the courage to bear witness to him before the world.

By inviting us to venerate the mortal remains of the martyrs and saints, the Church does not forget that, in the end, these are indeed just human bones, but they are bones that belonged to individuals touched by the living power of God. The relics of the saints are traces of that invisible but real presence which sheds light upon the shadows of the world and reveals the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst. They cry out with us and for us: "Maranatha!" - "Come, Lord Jesus!".

My dear friends, I make these words my farewell, and I invite you to the Saturday evening Vigil. I shall see you then!

VISIT TO THE CATHEDRAL OF COLOGNE Cologne - Roncalliplatz Thursday, 18 August 2005


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to be with you this evening, in this city of Cologne to which I am bound by so many beautiful memories. I spent the first years of my academic career in Bonn, unforgettable years of the reawakening of youth, of hope before the Council, years in which I often came to Cologne and learned to love this Rome of the North.

Here one breathes the great history, and the flow of the river brings openness to the world. It is a meeting place, a place of culture. I have always loved the spirit, sense of humour, joyfulness and intelligence of its inhabitants. Besides, I have to say, I loved the catholicity that Cologne's inhabitants have in their blood, for Christians have existed here for almost 2,000 years, so that this catholicity has penetrated the character of the inhabitants in the sense of a joyful religiosity.

Let us rejoice in this today. Cologne can give young people something of its joyful catholicity, which is at the same time both old and young.

It was very beautiful for me that Cardinal Frings gave me his full confidence from the very first, making an authentically fatherly friendship with me. Then, despite my youth and lack of experience, he gave me the great gift of summoning me as his theologian, of bringing me to Rome so that I could take part beside him in the Second Vatican Council and live this extraordinary historical event from close at hand, making some small contribution to it.

I also became acquainted with Cardinal Höffner, then Bishop of Münster, to whom I was likewise bound by a deep and lively friendship. Thanks be to God that this chain of friendships was never broken. Cardinal Meisner has also been my friend for a very long time, so that beginning with Frings and continuing with Höffner and Meisner, I have always been able to feel at home here in Cologne.

I think the time has now come to say "thank you" to so many people with the strong, deep voice of the heart.

In the first place, let us thank the good Lord who gives us the beautiful blue sky and his tangible blessing these days. Let us thank the Mother of God, who has taken the direction of World Youth Day into her hands.

I thank Cardinal Meisner and all his collaborators; Cardinal Lehmann, President of the German Bishops' Conference, and with him, all the Bishops of the German Dioceses, in particular the planning committee in Cologne, but also the Dioceses and local communities which have welcomed the young people in recent days. I can well imagine what all of this entails in terms of energy spent and sacrifices accepted, and I pray that it will bear abundant fruit in the spiritual success of this World Youth Day.

Finally, I cannot fail to express my profound gratitude to the civil and military Authorities, the leaders of the city and region, and the police and security forces of Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia. In the person of the Mayor I thank the people of Cologne for their understanding in the face of this "invasion" by so many young people from all over the world.

The city of Cologne would not be what it is without the Magi, who have had so great an impact on its history, its culture and its faith. Here, in some sense, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany every day of the year! And so, before addressing you, dear inhabitants of Cologne, before greeting you, I wanted to pause for a few moments of prayer before the reliquary of the three Magi, giving thanks to God for their witness of faith, hope and love.

You should know that in 1164 the relics of the Magi were escorted by the Archbishop of Cologne, Reinald von Dassel, from Milan, across the Alps, all the way to Cologne, where they were received with great jubilation. On their pilgrimage across Europe these relics left visible traces behind them which still live on today, both in place names and in popular devotions.

In honour of the Magi the inhabitants of Cologne produced the most exquisite reliquary of the whole Christian world and raised above it an even greater reliquary: Cologne Cathedral. Along with Jerusalem the "Holy City", Rome the "Eternal City" and Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Cologne, thanks to the Magi, has become down the centuries one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian West.

I do not want here to continue to sing the praises of Cologne, although it would be possible and meaningful to do so; it would take too long, for it would be necessary to say too many important and beautiful things about Cologne.

However, I would like to recall that we venerate St Ursula and her companions here; that in 745 the Holy Father named St Boniface Archbishop of Cologne; that St Albert the Great, one of the most learned scholars of the Middle Ages, worked here and that his relics are venerated in the Church of St Andrew; that Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the West, studied and taught here; that in the 19th century Adolph Kolping founded an important social institution; that Edith Stein, a converted Jew, lived here in Cologne at the Carmelite Convent before being forced to flee to the Convent of Echt in Holland to be deported subsequently to Auschwitz, where she died a martyr. Thanks to these and all the other figures, both known and unknown, Cologne possesses a rich legacy of saints.

I would like to add, at least as far as I know, that here in Cologne one of the Magi has been identified as a Moorish King of Africa, so that a representative of the African Continent has been seen as one of Jesus Christ's first witnesses.

I would also like to add that it was here in Cologne that important exemplary initiatives sprang up whose action has spread across the world, namely: Misereor, Adveniat and Renovabis.

Now you yourselves are here, dear young people from throughout the world. You represent those distant peoples who came to know Christ through the Magi and who were brought together as the new People of God, the Church, which gathers men and women from every culture.

Today, it is your task, dear young people, to live and breathe the Church's universality. Let yourselves be inflamed by the fire of the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost may be created among you and renew the Church.

Through you, may other young people everywhere come to recognize in Christ the true answer to their deepest aspirations, and may they open their hearts to receive the Word of God Incarnate, who died and rose so that God might dwell among us and give us the truth, love and joy for which we are all yearning.

God bless these days!

VISIT TO THE SYNAGOGUE OF COLOGNE Cologne - Synagogue Friday, 19 August 2005

Distinguished Jewish Authorities, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet all those who have already been mentioned. Shalom lêchém!

It has been my deep desire, during my first Visit to Germany since my election as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, to meet the Jewish community of Cologne and the representatives of Judaism in Germany. By this Visit I would like to return in spirit to the meeting that took place in Mainz on 17 November 1980 between my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II, then making his first Visit to this Country, and members of the Central Jewish Committee in Germany and the Rabbinic Conference.

Today, too, I wish to reaffirm that I intend to continue with great vigour on the path towards improved relations and friendship with the Jewish People, following the decisive lead given by Pope John Paul II (cf. Address to the Delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, 9 June 2005).

The Jewish community in Cologne can truly feel "at home" in this city. Cologne is, in fact, the oldest site of a Jewish community on German soil, dating back to the Colonia of Roman times, as we have come to know with precision.

The history of relations between the Jewish and Christian communities has been complex and often painful. There were blessed times when the two lived together peacefully, but there was also the expulsion of the Jews from Cologne in the year 1424.

And in the 20th century, in the darkest period of German and European history, an insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism, gave rise to the attempt, planned and systematically carried out by the regime, to exterminate European Jewry. The result has passed into history as the Shoah.

The victims of this unspeakable and previously unimaginable crime amounted to 11,000 named individuals in Cologne alone; the real figure was surely much higher. The holiness of God was no longer recognized, and consequently, contempt was shown for the sacredness of human life.

This year, 2005, marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, in which millions of Jews - men, women and children - were put to death in the gas chambers and ovens.

I make my own the words written by my venerable Predecessor on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and I too say: "I bow my head before all those who experienced this manifestation of the mysterium iniquitatis. " The terrible events of that time must "never cease to rouse consciences, to resolve conflicts, to inspire the building of peace" (Message for the Liberation of Auschwitz, 15 January 2005).

Together we must remember God and his wise plan for the world he created. As we read in the Book of Wisdom, he is the "lover of life" (11: 26).

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration Nostra Aetate, which opened up new prospects for Jewish-Christian relations in terms of dialogue and solidarity. This Declaration, in the fourth chapter, recalls the common roots and the immensely rich spiritual heritage that Jews and Christians share.

Both Jews and Christians recognize in Abraham their father in faith (cf. Gal
Ga 3,7 Rom 4: 11ff. ), and they look to the teachings of Moses and the prophets. Jewish spirituality, like its Christian counterpart, draws nourishment from the psalms. With St Paul, Christians are convinced that "the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" (Rm 11,29 cf. Rm 9,6 11: 1ff. ). In considering the Jewish roots of Christianity (cf. Rom Rm 11,16-24), my venerable Predecessor, quoting a statement by the German Bishops, affirmed that "whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism" (Insegnamenti, Vol. III/2, 1980, p. 1272).

The conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate therefore "deplores feelings of hatred, persecutions and demonstrations of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at whatever time and by whomsoever" (n. 4). God created us all "in his image" (cf. Gn Gn 1,27) and thus honoured us with a transcendent dignity. Before God, all men and women have the same dignity, whatever their nation, culture or religion.

Hence, the Declaration Nostra Aetate also speaks with great esteem of Muslims (cf. n. 3) and of the followers of other religions (cf. n. 2).

On the basis of our shared human dignity the Catholic Church "condemns as foreign to the mind of Christ any kind of discrimination whatsoever between people, or harassment of them, done by reason of race or colour, class or religion" (n. 5).

The Church is conscious of her duty to transmit this teaching, in her catechesis for young people and in every aspect of her life, to the younger generations which did not witness the terrible events that took place before and during the Second World War.

It is a particularly important task, since today, sadly, we are witnessing the rise of new signs of anti-Semitism and various forms of a general hostility towards foreigners. How can we fail to see in this a reason for concern and vigilance?

The Catholic Church is committed - I reaffirm this again today - to tolerance, respect, friendship and peace between all peoples, cultures and religions.

In the 40 years that have passed since the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, much progress has been made, in Germany and throughout the world, towards better and closer relations between Jews and Christians. Alongside official relationships, due above all to cooperation between specialists in the biblical sciences, many friendships have been born.

In this regard, I would mention the various declarations by the German Episcopal Conference and the charitable work done by the "Society for Jewish-Christian Cooperation in Cologne", which since 1945 have enabled the Jewish community to feel once again truly "at home" here in Cologne and to establish good relations with the Christian communities.

Yet much still remains to be done. We must come to know one another much more and much better.

Consequently, I would encourage sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, for only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions, and, above all, to make progress towards a theological evaluation of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

This dialogue, if it is to be sincere, must not gloss over or underestimate the existing differences: in those areas in which, due to our profound convictions in faith, we diverge, and indeed, precisely in those areas, we need to show respect and love for one another.

Finally, our gaze should not only be directed to the past, but should also look forward to the tasks that await us today and tomorrow. Our rich common heritage and our fraternal and more trusting relations call upon us to join in giving an ever more harmonious witness and to work together on the practical level for the defence and promotion of human rights and the sacredness of human life, for family values, for social justice and for peace in the world.

The Decalogue (cf. Ex Ex 20 Dt 5) is for us a shared legacy and commitment. The Ten Commandments are not a burden, but a signpost showing the path leading to a successful life.

This is particularly the case for the young people whom I am meeting in these days and who are so dear to me. My wish is that they may be able to recognize in the Decalogue our common foundation, a lamp for their steps, a light for their path (cf. Ps 119,105).

Adults have the responsibility of handing down to young people the torch of hope that God has given to Jews and to Christians, so that "never again" will the forces of evil come to power, and that future generations, with God's help, may be able to build a more just and peaceful world, in which all people have equal rights and are equally at home.

I conclude with the words of Psalm 29, which express both a wish and a prayer: "May the Lord give strength to his people, may he bless his people with peace".

May he hear our prayer!

Speeches 2005-13 18085