Welcoming Pope to Cathedral Provost

Cathedral Provost's Welcome Address for Pope Benedict XVI
on August 18, 2005 in Cologne Cathedral

Holy Father!
We extend a warm welcome to you at St Mary's Gate of Cologne Cathedral. In the name of the Cologne Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter, with reverence and great pleasure we are pleased to receive you in our Cathedral. You are heading a group of several thousand young people who have come as pilgrims to the shrine of the Three Kings. Like the Wise Men from the East, you have come to worship Christ our Lord. We join you in hoping and praying that this World Youth Day can help many people, young and old, to rediscover and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and to become witnesses of His love in the world.

Perhaps you will remember one certain visit to Cologne Cathedral that was of great significance in your life. On October 9, 1962, almost 43 years ago, you joined Hubert Luthe in accompanying our then Archbishop Cardinal Frings to prayers in the Cathedral and the Cathedral Crypt where the Cardinal touched the place where he would later be buried. It was just before his departure to Rome for the Second Vatican Council. At the time you will surely not have imagined that you would once return as Bishop of Rome, in the company of today's Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Meisner, to the Cathedral to pray at the burial sites of Cardinal Frings and Cardinal Höffner. We thank you for your visit. It fills us with pride that Cologne Cathedral is the first Cathedral outside the Diocese of Rome that you have entered since you became Pope. With a good measure of typical Colonian 'modesty' we believe this to be 'appropriate', as the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Cologne is the diocesan church of the 'Ecclesia Coloniensis semper sedis Apostolicae fidelis filia'.

The clergy of Cologne rejoice in your visit because so many of us were your students. From personal experience I can claim that you awoke in us an enthusiasm for theology and a love of the Church in a spirit of 'sober obedience'. Again, for this we offer our heartfelt gratitude. Be assured that we are with you, not just in this hour and in these days. Our prayers of intercession will always be with you.