Pope Concludes First State Visit to Germany

Posted September 25th, 2011 at 9:08 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Pope Benedict has wrapped up his first state visit to his native Germany with a final mass in the country's southwest.

Some 100 thousand people attended Sunday's mass in an airfield beside Freiburg's airport, where the pontiff made a strong appeal for unity among Catholics and the Vatican.

While in Freiburg, the pope also met with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a key figure behind the reunification of East and West Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Benedict's four-day trip has also taken him to Berlin and Erfurt. His arrival Thursday drew thousands of protestors at the Berlin airport, with protestors carrying banners about sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

During his visit to Berlin the pope met with a small group of Catholics who say they were sexually abused by members of the Catholic clergy. The Vatican said afterward that the pontiff expressed his “deep compassion and regret” to those victims. But critics said the meeting did nothing to solve the problem.

The pope also met with Muslim leaders in Berlin, where he called for Christianity and Islam to grow together in “dialogue and mutual esteem.”