|Interview With Father Kohn, a Pontifical
ROME, NOV. 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).-
World Youth Day 2005 will be an important event especially for "a Europe
dominated by a very secularized culture," says a Vatican organizer.
Father Francis Kohn, the director of the Youth Section of the Pontifical
Council for the Laity, adds that the event, planned for Aug. 16-21 in
Germany, has ambitious goals.
"We know from experience the great benefits received not only by the
Catholic communities but by the whole country, when it is the venue of a
WYD," Father Kohn said as he was interviewed by ZENIT.
Q: What contribution can young people make to the Church?
Father Kohn: Young people enable one to rediscover in the Church an
ever-new face. We are talking about young people of great faith and
fervor. WYD is a Catholic event because the invitation is made by the
Pope, but there is also an "inculturation," an influence on the local
We have seen that WYD is a great pilgrimage in faith. Our task is to put
young people in touch with Christ; to foster a personal encounter, and to
provide the occasion for conversion and the rediscovery of the sacraments,
especially confession and the Eucharist.
We have seen that catechesis is very important. Today's young people have
a great desire to deepen their faith and have a thirst for the Absolute.
They want to know the Truth.
Q: How is catechesis carried out in a WYD?
Father Kohn: Catecheses are imparted by bishops of diverse parts of
the world and are central in World Youth Days.
Catecheses, liturgies and cultural meetings of youth from all over the
world are a unique opportunity to deepen the faith through different
cultures. In WYD, young people discover other ways of living the faith and
other ways of experiencing Christian culture.
Q: Why was the German city of Cologne chosen as the venue?
Father Kohn: The choice of Cologne is very important because it is
the first time that a World Youth Day is held in the German language. This
will be determinant for a new launching of and assistance to the local
Moreover, it is a great opportunity for the European Church to receive new
impulse and hope. In addition, there is the possibility to rediscover,
without controversies, the Christian roots of Europe. Young people want to
learn about their past.
In this context, WYD can be a positive experience and a manifestation in
which today's young people can express their willingness to work for
reconciliation and peace.
It can be said that every World Youth Day is like a parable of
reconciliation and peace which goes beyond all borders and divisions of
culture and language. It is a real, not a theoretical experience.
Q: What is the meaning of the motto "We have come to adore him"?
Father Kohn: There is continuity in the themes chosen. In the last
WYD, we reflected on the theme "We wish to see Jesus." Now, beginning with
the wise men of the East, we address the topic "We have come to adore
him." We must remember that the wise men were pagans and came from afar to
satiate their thirst for the Absolute, to find Jesus.
The theme was chosen three years ago, long before the Holy Father decided
to hold the Year of the Eucharist, and it is therefore an opportunity to
help young people meet personally with the Child Jesus, with the
rediscovery of the incarnation, with the mystery of the Eucharist and of
The intention is to show how to live in the world, offering one's own life
and activities for the glory of God and the good of men.
The image of the wise men, who arrive to adore Jesus, is very symbolic,
because they were pagans and were seeking the truth free of prejudices.
They left their countries without giving thought to securities. They
started a long journey following the star, namely, with faith in
Providence, and they saw Jesus with their own eyes, in the stable in
Bethlehem, and they knelt before him.
This is very important because WYD is open to all, not just to Catholics
and Christians but also to young people who don't have faith and are not
baptized. It is the first time in 20 years that the Pope explicitly
invites young people who are not baptized, who are far from the Church, to
come to Cologne for WYD.