Pope to visit Germany for second time in 2006

8th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 December 2005, MUNICH - Pope Benedict XVI is to pay his second papal visit to Germany from September 10 to 15 next year, staying in the state of Bavaria where he was born and spent the first half of his life.

8 December 2005

MUNICH - Pope Benedict XVI is to pay his second papal visit to Germany from September 10 to 15 next year, staying in the state of Bavaria where he was born and spent the first half of his life.

Cardinal Friedrich Wetter said in Munich that the tour by Joseph Ratzinger would include visits to the diocesan seats of Munich and Regensburg as well as to Bavaria's main pilgrimage site, Altoetting, where pilgrims have come for centuries to pray to St. Mary for cures.

A precise itinerary will not be released till next year. Wetter said the Vatican would not officially announce the trip until a few weeks before Benedict departed from Rome.

Pope Benedict visited Germany in August, but spent the entire time in the western city of Cologne at an international Catholic youth congress, merely flying over Bavaria on his way back to Rome.

Wetter, who took over from Ratzinger as archbishop of Munich in 1982 when the eminent theologian moved to Rome, said it was likely the pope would make a brief visit to the tiny town of Marktl-am-Inn, where his birthplace has been converted into a museum.

Georg Ratzinger, the pope's elder brother, said he also hoped Benedict would drop by to see him at his apartment in Regensburg.

The pope himself owns a comfortable suburban house in the same city, but is unlikely to need it again since popes stay in office till they die.

Church officials expect Benedict to get a huge welcome in Bavaria, which is one of Germany's most solidly Catholic regions. Before the Cologne visit, there were suggestions that Germans were not fond of Ratzinger, but his communicative style won over the crowds.

In Cologne, he smiled wryly as he was followed everywhere by chants of "Be-ne-de-tto", his pontifical name in Italian.

About 1 million people showed up for a papal mass in August, creating traffic jams that lasted most of the day after transport planning failed. Wetter said the Olympic Stadium in Munich was being considered for next year's Sunday papal mass.

Ratzinger, who became pope on April 19, was ordained to the priesthood at Munich's ancient cathedral in suburban Freising in 1951 and became bishop in 1977. Regensburg is 100 kilometres to the north.

"His bond to the city and diocese of Regensburg, where he used to be a theology professor, comes through his family," Wetter explained. "His brother lives there. His parents and sister are buried there."

Wetter added that Ratzinger had been going to Altoetting since he was a child and loved the place. It would be easy to drop into nearby Marktl from there. An estimated 50,000 people have visited the house where Ratzinger was born in Marktl this year.

Both places are in a third diocese, Passau. Two other popes have knelt in prayer in the past before Altoetting's Black Madonna, a famed image of the Virgin Mary: Pius VI in the year 1782 and Pope John Paul II in 1980.

DPA

Subject: German news

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