Pope Benedict XVI has left his "beloved homeland" of Germany and returned to Rome.
Thousands of young Catholics from around the world gathered in Cologne for the Catholic World Youth Festival.
The pontiff told crowds that Catholic morals and ethics were in constant decline and he urged a future where the Church remained truly young in spirit while not pandering to youth.
Were you in Cologne? Did you enjoy the festivities? What is your reaction to the Pope's comments?
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This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views received:
I am a PhD student just returned from the fantastic, loving and prayerful atmosphere in Cologne. The vast crowds from almost two hundred nations sang, danced and interacted in good humour throughout a week of crushes and long walks. The ubiquitous chants of Be-ne-detto indicate the deep affection and love with which the Pope is regarded by young Catholics. I don't understand calls for the Church to change its teaching to fit with me - rather it's me who ought to change my life to fit with the message of the Church.
Joseph Conlon, Cambridge, UK
It is unfortunate that this new Pope is clinging to old traditions that oppress women. These teachings are man-made and have nothing to do with the true word of God.
Christopher Borycheski, Toronto, Canada
I thought Pope Benedict XVI's words were truly inspiring, timeless and invigorating. The Church is here to help everyone. We all know what happens when DIY jobs happen, they all end up botch-ups. He is a man of God and a great leader of his flock. Viva il Papa.
The Pope went to Germany to attempt to repair Catholic setbacks there. The religion is on a slow decline in Europe (thankfully) and it is my hope that other religions will decline with it.
Alex, London UK
I have been made pilgrimages all over the world to hear a succession of popes speak for the past 60 years. However, I am getting too old so I don't think that I will be able to make another. However from what I saw on the telly box, he certainly looks the part. And Benedict is such a nice name.
Bill Stitt, Edinburgh, Scotland
I have lived in Cologne for five years and I could not believe how inconsiderate some of the so-called pilgrims were last week. They seemed to be drinking beer the whole day and then singing and shouting to at least 4am without a thought that some people in the city centre may have to get some sleep as they have to work the next day. I am not trying to be a killjoy but this appeared to be a cross between Oktoberfest and the Love Parade for Catholics.
AE, Cologne, Germany
As a 20 year old Catholic living in a secular society I would just like to say that any religion is hard to live by, fact. I agree with the Pope that DIY or 'Pick n' Mix' religion is farcical because people will just disregard the parts that do not suit them. As I believe in moral absolutes, it seems a pretty immoral approach to morality to me.
DF, London, UK
I've just come back from Cologne and have to say I've had the best experience of my life. The atmosphere was truly incredible and people were extremely kind and generous to one another. I was also surprised at how conservative the majority of other teenagers were - typified by when 70% of the congregation walked out of a church in disgust at "happy clappy" music and started praying the rosary on the steps outside! Pope Benedict may prove to be more popular than the late John Paul thanks to his incredible humility and bluntness in speaking the truth.
Patrick Leahy, Cambridge, UK
I am currently working in Bonn (just a short way from Cologne) and I am not religious. However there was an atmosphere of peace and of joy/fun. There were thousands of people, over 200 countries represented the local media tells of, and they ALL interacted peacefully. No flags were burned, no other religions hated, there was singing and dancing.
R. Charlesworth, Skye, Scotland
I am not Catholic, but a supporter of Benedict XVI. I also live in the Rhineland, which has seen the peaceful influx of young pilgrims from all over the world the past days. I have never observed such a peaceful, joyous, friendly and patient crowd before, when I was in Duesseldorf last weekend (Many of the pilgrims were stationed there). I only wished that the Pope would have been more outgoing in addressing moral issues that are on the young people's mind.
Peter Nadig, Duisburg, Germany
I'm not sure if I like this "pop concert" aesthetic. No real issues were addressed, it all looked like a PR gig to me.
Andreas Oikonomou, Athens, Greece
Too much notice is taken of unelected spiritual advisors and religion should keep out of governance. Criticise and lobby by all means, but don't try to dictate to the majority who do not believe.
Richard Hough, Knutsford, Cheshire
Do it yourself religion is better than no religion. A lot of People are disillusioned with the church we have at the moment due to scandals and a lack of forgiveness and understanding. I do not need to be part of an organisation to live as a Christian and try my best to follow the teachings of God. With regard to making a profit, people in glass houses should not throw stones.
The same old rhetoric from an out of touch pontiff. Morals and ethics are subjective based on individual experience, environment and education. While I do agree Pope Benedict is a man of God and of peace, his views are out of touch with the reality of the very people he hopes to guide spiritually. People know society has moved on and moved away from dogmatic domination by conservative Catholicism as practised by Pope Benedict, he must come to terms with his mindset and realise he needs to approach his term of office with new thinking if he is to maintain his primacy of the Christian church.
Eddie Espie, Cookstown
Pope Benedict XVI (just like his predecessor, Great Pope John Paul II) is paving the way for a new Counter-Reformation. After the secular "reformation" of the 20th century with its horrors and various failed teachings (from communism and fascism to consumerism and licentiousness), people of Europe are beginning to realise that they will not achieve true happiness unless they let God into their lives.
Pavel, Minsk, Belarus
I really loved the irony and hypocrisy of his DIY religion comments, forgetting his own religion was just this when it was formed. Personally, I can't stand the idea of the pope, or the organisation he represents. It has no place in the modern world and causes many more problems than it has ever solved.
As a Christian I feel part of a persecuted minority in these days, living under a government that is distinctly secular, despite Blair's pretensions to piety. Seeing the alternative, a great religious leader and huge crowds attracted to hear the timeless values he espouses, made me realise again just how hollow the modern secular world really is.
Zak, Ribblehead, Yorkshire
I applaud the efforts by the Pope to reach out to a forgotten generation and win their hearts and minds. As a Protestant married to a Catholic I am only too well aware of the differences that have sadly marred church relations over the years. The current atmosphere of co-operation and mutual understanding can only be good. May God bless Pope Benedict XVI !!
Iain, Macclesfield, UK
When I visited and lived in Europe I found it very sad that the beautiful churches of Europe were mostly empty, except for tourists. I hope this German Pope can reach out to young people in Europe and strengthen their faith.
Laura, Atlanta, GA USA
I'm very proud of Pope Benedict XVI, especially because he is a follower of Jesus Christ, and keeps his faith and principles present in the Scriptures. By now he is in his homeland following the steps of his beloved and great predecessor John Paul II. May God be with him and that he may lead generations towards a better time in the world. As a Catholic I'm a big fan of the newly elected Pope as I was of his predecessor John Paul II.
Raimundo L. Santos , Belo Horizonte, Brazil
I am very disappointed to see so many intelligent people sucked into liking Pope Benedict. Conservative Catholicism is not the way forward, I personally don't care what he does/says. I really hope his influence lessens, the visit to Cologne is merely a show.
Andy, Brighton, England
It does not matter who the Pope is or from what nation he comes from. He speaks on behalf of Christ, the Good Shephard and we love him and listen to him. The World Youth Day is an eloquent testimony to the catholicity (universality) of the church. May God bless all the youth of the world!
V Edat, Vancovuer, Canada
God bless Pope Benedict and the thousands of Catholic young people in Cologne. May the Holy Spirit of Jesus strengthen your faith and help you to bear witness to Christ throughout your lives. The Pope is a good and wise man and I am sure he will do his utmost to reach out in friendship to people of all faiths and none. Ordinary Catholics such as myself also have a role to play by offering our friendship to people of other faiths in our own lives. Love Jesus with all your heart.
David, London, UK
We, in the West, have become so accustomed to a material life, underpinned by a need for immediate satisfaction of our desires and as little responsibility for our actions as we can get away with, that we have lost sight of the beauty of spirituality. Indeed, we have contempt for those who might dare profess such a thing. This Pope believes that our civilisation is based on the foundation of the teachings of the church and the moral values it has as its basis, as well as the painful lessons of our history.
Gerard, Brussels, Belgium
It is good that the Pope is helping to encourage the young people. They are the hope for the future!
Daniel, Kent, UK
Pope Benedict XVI should remember the Third World especially Africa, a continent where there has been a lot of problems particularly the poverty that has been neglected by rich nations.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA
I am not in Cologne but I am closely following up the recent events of Pope Benedict's visit across Germany. He seems to be a man of noble ambition like his predecessor Pope John Paul. Still when it comes to his criticism about Turkey's EU future and his efforts to re-Christianise Europe, he sends a signal that he has biases against other belief systems. Let's hope he carries out his duties just like honourable Pope John Paul did.
Ather, Toronto, Canada
Although I am not comfortable with organised religion, I feel comforted by the fact that this leader believes that values should never compromised, regardless of popular whim.
George J. Dagis, New York, USA
Church teaching on contraception and abortion etc cannot change, so Benedict XVI's stance on such issues will not differ from that of John Paul. But he is beginning to put his own personality's stamp on the Papacy. He also supported John Paul's opposition to the unjust Iraq war, so I hope he will soon use his office to help get the US and Britain out of the wretched mess that Bush and Blair have got the world into.
David Irby, Dingle, Ireland
When I first lived in Germany in the 1970s, no-one went to church. My first Sunday there, I was all of 18, I went to Mass to find the cathedral in Munich absolutely empty except for some old ladies. I doubt if much has changed and that this reactionary Pope will have any connection to young people.
Mike Tracy, NYC, USA
Much has been made of Pope Benedict being the 'listening Pope'. I only hope this is the case, and that he listens to the views of the young Catholics in Germany. Many of whom ask for the church to lift its ban on contraceptives to help the Third World.