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Pope Benedict Begins Six Day Visit to Native Germany


Pope Benedict arrived in his native Germany Saturday, where he hopes to revive the faith of the German people during a six-day tour of the southern region of Bavaria, where he grew up.

German President Horst Kohler and Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the pope on his arrival in Munich, as church bells pealed across the city.

The crowd greeted the pope with enthusiasm, calling out his name as a band played at the airport.

He addressed those gathered to welcome him home on his second trip to Germany since he was elected pope in April last year.

Benedict said he hopes all the people of Bavaria and Germany may become active in transmitting the fundamental values of Christian faith to the citizens of tomorrow. The pope has often expressed concern about growing secularization in Europe.

From the airport, the pope stopped at the Gregorian seminary on his way to the central Marienplatz Square, where he prayed in front of the 17th century statue of the Virgin Mary, the patroness of Bavaria.

The pope thanked all those present for their warm welcome and all those who worked to prepare for his visit.

For Pope Benedict, this trip to the southern German region of Bavaria is a journey down memory lane. He will be going back to visit the places of his childhood and youth and of his student days.

It is here in Munich that Pope Benedict served as a priest, and then became archbishop. Hundreds-of-thousands of people are expected to attend an open-air mass in Munich on Sunday.

The pope will be going to the village of Marktl am Inn, where he was born, travel to one of Germany's holiest shrines in Altoetting, and go to Regensburg, where he taught theology.