Pope Benedict XVI returns to his homeland for his first international event since being elected pope. He participated in World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany Aug. 16–21, 2005. / Vatican Media
Boston, Mass., Jan 3, 2023 / 12:00 pm (CNA).
In his last World Youth Day before retirement, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged young people across the world to preserve Christian joy within their hearts.
On each World Youth Day, the late pope exhorted young people to follow the guidance of the Gospel by using a different theme from Scripture.
Below are all the times from 2005 to 2012 Benedict XVI encouraged young people at World Youth Day to live the Gospel message.
World Youth Day 2005
Benedict’s first World Youth Day as pope was celebrated in his native country, Germany.
Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, Aug. 18, 2005. Vatican Media
Speaking to 1.2 million people in Cologne, he encouraged all to find the joy that is offered in Sunday Mass. The theme of World Youth Day in 2005 was “We have come to worship him.”
World Youth Day 2006
Benedict encouraged young people to read the Bible during his 2006 World Youth Day address. Celebrations were in local dioceses across the world on Palm Sunday, April 9.
The theme for that World Youth Day was “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
World Youth Day 2007
In 2007, during a local celebration of World Youth Day, Benedict offered a deep reflection on love and its importance in everyone’s lives.
The theme of the day was “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” In part of his address, he spoke to those who were engaged to be married and encouraged them to seek the Church’s guidance in their vocation.
World Youth Day 2008
World Youth Day 2008 was in Sydney, Australia, from July 15–20 and had as its theme “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”
Pope Benedict XVI welcomes thousands to the start of World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia July 12 – 21, 2008. Vatican Media
Speaking to the 500,000 attendees from across the world, Benedict encouraged the young people to be renewed by the Holy Spirit by staying close to the sacraments.
World Youth Day 2009
Local celebrations took place for World Youth Day on April 5. The theme for the day was “We have set our hope on the living God.”
In his Palm Sunday address, Benedict called for young people to follow St. Paul’s example of witnessing to Christ.
World Youth Day 2010
During the local World Youth Day celebrations on March 28, Benedict called on young people to not give up on their dreams in the face of adversity. The theme was “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).
World Youth Day 2011
Speaking to 1.4 million attendees in Madrid, Spain, Benedict encouraged young people to make Jesus the center of their lives.
Pope Benedict XVI addresses volunteers of World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 21, 2011. Vatican Media
The theme for the Aug. 16–21 World Youth Day was “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.” Twenty-nine thousand people from the United States attended.
World Youth Day 2012
The theme for the local celebrations of World Youth Day on April 1 was “Rejoice in the Lord always!”
In his address on Palm Sunday, Benedict gave guidance on how to preserve Christian joy within one’s heart.