In August, Pope Benedict xvi made Germany the destination of his first trip abroad. On Sunday, August 21, as part of the World Youth Day celebration, the pontiff conducted a mass with over 1 million people where he stressed the importance of Sunday worship: “Sunday is a free day .… Yet this free time is empty if God is not present,” he said. “Sometimes our initial impression is that having to include time for mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time” (International Herald Tribune, August 22).
These comments came just a few months after similar statements at a mass celebrating the closing of the 24th National Eucharistic Congress on May 29. In front of 200,000 in the Italian city of Bari, Benedict declared that the reinforcement of Sunday worship is fundamental to his mission.