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Rome Reports

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Pope showing vitality, plans full schedule for Germany trip in September

The pope will have a full schedule on this trip that includes four plane rides and two helicopter tours in four days.On Thursday September 22, he will arrive in Berlin and meet with President Christian Wulff followed by Angela Merkel. Then in the afternoon he will visit the Federal Parliament. The day will end with a Mass at the Olympic stadium in Berlin. There are no planned ceremonies to take place at the Berlin Wall, but the pontiff will visit a city in the former East Germany. In Erfurt, he will meet Friday with the Council of the German Evangelical Church in a convent where Martin Luther once lived. In the afternoon he will travel by helicopter to the shrine of Etzelsbach.On Saturday the 24th, a Mass will be held in Erfurt, with a full attendance of guests already scheduled. Afterward, he will travel to Freiburg to meet with the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Benedict XVI will also meet with representatives from the Orthodox Church and German seminarians. The day will then end with a large meeting of young people.On Sunday the 25th, the pope will celebrate Mass at the airport of Freiburg and spend the afternoon meeting with the German Constitutional Court. Before leaving for Rome, he?ll be greeted by a group of Catholic lay people the Vatican has said are “active with the Church and society.”The official site for the event provides all the information and has an online store that sells everything from bracelets, pens and key-chains to cup holders, umbrellas, medals and thermoses with the official logo of the trip. Germany has 82 million inhabitants. 71% are Christians, 5% are Muslim and 24% are agnostic. Catholics make up 30%, which is about 25 million people, slightly higher than the number of Protestants there.CB/AERRHC-BN