Cologne, Aug. 16, 2005 (CNA) - World Youth Day 2005 “will be celebrated with two Popes—one in heaven above and the other here on earth,” said Cardinal Joachim Meisner today in his comments at the opening press conference before more than 400 international journalists.

The cardinal referred to Pope John Paul II—who died in April, but who had initiated the World Youth Days 20 years ago—and to his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to his death, Pope John Paul had expressed his desire to attend the gathering in Cologne.

“Both [popes] worked to make this World Youth Day a reality,” said the archbishop of Cologne, who is the primary host of the international event.

The cardinal said Germany and the young pilgrims are looking forward to welcoming Pope Benedict XVI, but he added that John Paul is present at this WYD in spirit and “is looking down at us from above.

“Pope John Paul II wanted young people to be builders of a civilization of love,” he continued. “And the theme—We have come to worship him—describes the World Youth Day program and the program for all future World Youth Days.

“Worshipping God is not about piety here on earth. It is a prerequisite to building this civilization of love,” he said.

The late Pope’s dream was to bring young believers together in one country and to give them an opportunity to grow and celebrate their faith, the cardinal said.

“The fact that there are so many young people here in Cologne demonstrates that they understand the legacy of this great Holy Father and that they see themselves as part of this tradition,” Cardinal Meisner stated.

Bishop Josef Clemens of the Pontifical Council for the Laity confirmed WYD “is an idea that will be sustained” by the Church. He said it is part of the council’s mandate to “make sure that World Youth Day continues.”