Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pope Benedict in Germany

Saturday morning, Pope Benedict XVI began his apostolic trip to Germany, which over the next five days will take him to Munich, Altotting and Regensburg, concluding on Thursday, September 14.

He departed from Ciampino airport outside Rome at 1.45 p.m. and landed at 3.30 p.m. at the Franz Joseph Strauss airport of Munich, capital city of Bavaria. Waiting to greet the Holy Father were Horst Kohler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel, federal chancellor, and Edmund Stoiber, minister-president of Bavaria, as well as various ecclesial, civil and military authorities.

"I return to my homeland," said Benedict XVI, "among my people, with the intention of visiting a number of places of fundamental importance in my life, ... yet also as Peter's Successor, to reaffirm and fortify the profound ties that exist between the Holy See and the Church in our country.

"These ties have a centuries-old history," he added, "nourished by firm adhesion to the values of Christian faith, something to which the Bavarian regions can lay a particular claim." He then went on to recall the great cultural and artistic heritage of his homeland, "in which are reflected the Christian convictions of the generations that have succeeded one another in this land that is so dear to me.

"Relations between Bavaria and the Holy See, though with some moments of tension, have always been marked by respectful cordiality" said the Pope, who from 1977 to 1982 was archbishop of Munich-Freising. "At the decisive moments of their history, the Bavarian people have always confirmed their sincere devotion to the See of Peter and their firm attachment to the Catholic faith."

Although "the contemporary social situation is in many ways different from the past," he observed, "we are all united in the hope that the new generations may stay faithful to the spiritual heritage which, through the crises of history, has remained firm. ... Bavaria is a part of Germany, and being part of German history in its high and low points, it can with good reason be proud of the traditions inherited from the past. It is my hope that all my fellow countrymen and women in Bavaria, and in all of Germany, may take an active part in the transmission of the fundamental values of Christian faith to the citizens of tomorrow."

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by addressing a greeting to all the country's inhabitants, to Catholics and "to followers of other Churches and ecclesial communities, in particular to Lutheran and Orthodox Christians," as well as to followers of other religions. And he quoted some words to the Virgin Mary, Patroness of Bavaria, written by the German Latinist and poet Jakob Balde (1604-1668): "Watch over your Bavarians, Virgin Protectress, their goods, their authorities, their country, their religion." Finally, he closed with the traditional Bavarian greeting: "Gruss Gott!" (God bless you).


No comments: