A German newspaper is reporting today that the Pope wants to make his first official visit to Germany in 2011.
Citing “reliable sources”, the Frankfurter Rundschau said the Pope discussed the visit with the president of the German Bishops Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, who visited the Vatican last week. It would follow two previous trips by the Pope to his homeland – in 2005 for World Youth Day in Cologne, and in 2006 to Bavaria. Those visits were solely of a pastoral or private nature.
The exact date is not known. Neither the Vatican nor the bishops’ conference have confirmed the report, although Germany’s former President, Horst Köhler, had originally invited him to visit Germany and the invitation was allegedly renewed by Kohler’s successor, Christian Wulff.
Frankfurter Rundschau says it is certain that any trip would include Berlin. It says the feeling among some is that a state visit is long overdue, and that if the Holy Father can make a state visit to Britain, and also meet the heads of state of the United States and Poland in their capital cities, then he should do the same for Germany.
The paper contends that Benedict XVI has been reluctant to visit to Berlin because he is “still traumatized” by the protests which greeted John Paul II on a visit to the German capital in June 1996. Judging by his approach to his visit to Britain and the overall success of that trip, however, he’s more likely looking forward to it.