Back in April 2005 the former German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI (Papst Benedikt XVI.). Four months later, in August, the Pope was able to return to his homeland with his first official visit as pope, to attend the Weltjugendtag (World Youth Day, see links below) in Cologne (Köln), Germany from August 18 to 21. When the German pope landed at the Köln-Bonn airport, people were talking about "Köln im Papst-Fieber" ("Cologne in pope fever"). He was received at the airport by both the German president (Horst Köhler) and chanceller Gerhard Schröder. He was welcomed by the president with these words: "Heiliger Vater, willkommen in der Heimat, willkommen in Deutschland." ("Welcome, Holy Father, welcome to your homeland, welcome to Germany.")
The pope's visit to Germany also offered him an opportunity to demonstrate his ecumenical philosophy by reaching out to Germany's Jewish and Muslim communities. The pope has said that he wishes to continue the philosophy of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. At the end of his visit on Sunday, August 21, the pope conducted an open-air mass on the Marienfeld, a former open-pit coal mine near Cologne. Over 800,000 faithful attended that final event of the pope's visit.
On the first afternoon of his visit the pope cruised along the Rhine on a special "Papstschiff" with 200 invited youthful guests. Pope Benedict's ship was accompanied by five smaller boats, said to represent the five continents. (A sixth boat carried journalist from all continents.) The pope greeted crowds along the banks of the Rhine in several languages, including English, French, Italian, and his native German. The pope also paid a visit to Cologne's famous gothic cathedral (Kölner Dom) to bless disabled youths. Cologne is in one of Germany's Catholic regions. Most German Catholics live in Bavaria, the pope's birthplace. About half of Germany's Christians are Catholic.
Born in the small Bavarian town of Marktl, Ratzinger became a professor of theology at several German universities. He held professorships in Bonn, Münster, Tübingen, and Regensburg (in Bavaria). Eventually Ratzinger moved up in the German Catholic church until he became a cardinal and moved to Rome and Vatican City. (For more about Pope Benedict XVI and his life, see the bio link below.)
Here is a brief Engish-German glossary of terms related to the pope and his visit to Germany. Also see our more extensive English-German Religion and Faiths Glossary.
VOCABULARY - English-German
address (speech) die Anrede, die Ansprache
airport der Flughafen
cardinal der Kardinal
Catholic (adj.) katholisch
Cologne Cathedral der Kölner Dom
German (federal) chancellor der Bundeskanzler
German (federal) president der Bundespräsident
Holy Father der Heilige Vater
pilgrimage die Pilgerfahrt
pilgrims die Pilger (pl.)
pope der Papst (Päpste)
Pope Benedikt XVI Papst Benedikt XVI.
pope mobile das Papamobil
prayer das Gebet
Rhine der Rhein
World Youth Day der Weltjugendtag
More vocabulary: English-German Religion and Faiths Glossary
FOTOS > Marktl am Inn, the pope's birthplace