Benedict XVI ends six-day visit to Germany

14th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

14 September 2006, MUNICH/ROME - Pope Benedict XVI returned to Italy on Thursday, ending a six-day tour of Germany's Bavaria region, where he had revisited his birthplace and steered clear of controversy when preaching to crowds. The return flight on a chartered Lufthansa jet took the pope over the Bavarian towns where he lived as a child before landing at Rome's Ciampino airport at 2.37 pm. On Monday, the pope had spent 45 minutes visiting Marktl-am-Inn, the town where he was born in 1927. The longest tou

14 September 2006

MUNICH/ROME - Pope Benedict XVI returned to Italy on Thursday, ending a six-day tour of Germany's Bavaria region, where he had revisited his birthplace and steered clear of controversy when preaching to crowds.

The return flight on a chartered Lufthansa jet took the pope over the Bavarian towns where he lived as a child before landing at Rome's Ciampino airport at 2.37 pm.

On Monday, the pope had spent 45 minutes visiting Marktl-am-Inn, the town where he was born in 1927.

The longest tour outside Italy of his papacy so far, given round- the-clock television coverage by German news channels, went off without a hitch and won Benedict plaudits for his friendly and informal style, but criticism over his caution.

Benedict said as he boarded his plane that he would always remember the enthusiasm and the religious fervour of the crowds.

Relaxed and smiling, Benedict 79, had earlier brought laughter from an audience of Catholic priests, when he said, "I brought you a great sermon, but I'm not going to read it out. If you really want, you can see it in print."

He then summed up the sermon ad lib, saying priests were over- worked like himself.

"I don't have the capacity to do it all, so I say, the others will have to do it," he said, advising priests to delegate work and take time out from work to pray more. He made no reference to demands to open recruitment for the priesthood to women and married men.

Although he appeared tired mid-way through the trip, Benedict seemed fit for his age, walking briskly, shaking many hands and often guiding his stooped elder brother, Georg, 82, who is nearly blind.

Many Germans were worried last year when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope that he would be a distant and divisive figure who would crack down on liberals. Dissident Catholic theologian Hans Kueng said Benedict in Germany had come across as a "nice" person.

Kueng said Benedict had been "tactically smart" to stay silent about controversies, but would have to offer dialogue with critics.

DPA

Subject: German news

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