Pope says he’s not a rock star

December 23rd, 2008 - 12:16 am ICT by IANS  

Vatican City, Dec 22 (DPA) Pope Benedict XVI Monday fondly recalled his participation in July at the massively attended Catholic World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, but warned such events should not be mistaken for “rock festivals”.Benedict’s remarks came during Christmas greetings to the Vatican Curia in which he reflected on his highlights for 2008, including the “radiant days” of the papal visits to the US and France.

“Australia had never seen so many people from all the continents as witnessed during World Youth Day. Not even during the (Sydney 2000 Summer) Olympics,” Benedict said.

The pontiff observed how the event turned into a “a feast of joy” in which people came together to celebrate their faith in the name of the Holy Spirit.

“Fashionable analyses” that see such Roman Catholic gatherings as a “variant of modern youth culture, as a kind of ecclesiastical rock festival with the Pope as the star”, should be avoided, Benedict said.

The week-long festival culminated in a mass celebrated by Benedict in Sydney attended by some 350,000 people.

In his address to the Curia, Benedict also recalled the Catholic bishop’s synod in October which focused on the theme “Word of God” and featured the first ever participation by a Jewish rabbi.

Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Shear-Yashuv Cohen, had made a “precious contribution” when he spoke about the “Holy Scriptures of Israel, that are in fact also our Holy Scriptures”, Benedict said.

The German-born pontiff did not refer to controversial remarks made by Cohen when he indirectly suggested in his speech to the bishops, that Pope Pius XII had remained silent during the Nazi atrocities against the Jews in World War II.

Benedict has repeatedly defended Pius’ wartime record and has praised what have been described as behind-the-scenes attempts by that pope to save Jews in Italy and elsewhere in Europe from being sent to Nazi death camps.

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