Pope looking forward to trip home to Germany

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Pope Benedict XVI says he is looking forward to his upcoming trip to his homeland Germany, while stressing that God, not "spectacle," is the focus.

The main aim of his visit, from Thursday to next Sunday, will be to help "God to penetrate our field of vision," the pope said late Saturday.

In a rare move, he made his comments on a German television programme that has been running for over 50 years in which a priest or pastor delivers a sermon.

Pope John Paul II appeared on the same religious show "Das Wort zum Sonntag" (The Word on Sunday) on the ARD channel in 1987.

"I am already thrilled at the prospect" of the visit, Benedict said at the start of his talk, which lasted just under four minutes and was recorded at the Vatican.

A key part of his trip will be a meeting with representatives of the German Protestant church in the Augustine monastery at Erfurt, where Martin Luther "started on his way," he added.

"We aren't expecting anything sensational. The important thing will be to think together in that place, to listen to the word of God and to pray," in the spirit of ecumenism.

It will be the third trip to Germany for Pope Benedict, the first pontiff to visit the country for some 500 years.

He was keen to stress that the crowds and spectacle that accompany such events are secondary.

"All this isn't about religious tourism and even less about a spectacle," he insisted.

Instead, the theme for his visit will be "where God is, the future is born."

"We must allow God to penetrate our field of vision," the pope added.

The papal visit is already mired in controversy, with a number of theologians leading vocal criticism over the Vatican's antiquated attitudes,

Benedict XVI will visit Berlin, Erfurt in the ex-German Democratic Republic, and Freiburg.

The 84-year old pope will give 18 sermons and speeches during his 21st trip abroad.

The Vatican has not ruled out the possibility that the pontiff will meet with victims of clerical sexual abuse.

© 2011 AFP

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