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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2005, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Pope desires 'new wave of faith'
Pope Benedict XVI
The trip to Cologne will be the first one abroad for Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI has said he hopes his forthcoming trip to his homeland Germany will give "new impulse" to the Roman Catholic Church in Europe.

He said the idea that Christianity is a burden with its many rules and prohibitions was a misconception.

He will take part in World Youth Day, a Catholic festival that draws large numbers of young people. Up to 800,000 are expected at a Mass next Sunday.

The visit is the 78-year-old pontiff's first abroad since his election.

Coincidental choice

In an interview with Vatican Radio ahead of the trip, the Pope said there was a widespread idea that "Christianity is composed of laws and bans which one has to keep".

He said this was often seen as "something toilsome and cumbersome".

"I want to make clear that it is not a burden to be carried with great love and realisation, but it is like having wings," he added.

"It is wonderful to be a Christian with this knowledge that it gives us a great breadth, a large community."

Asked what the ideal aim of the festival in Cologne was, Benedict answered that ideally, it would spark "a wave of new faith among young people, especially the youth in Germany and Europe".

World Youth Day is a large jamboree that takes place at different locations every few years.

Cologne was chosen to host the event years before the German-born Pope was elected.

See the preparations for the rally in Germany

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