Pope Benedict XVI's Germany visit to focus on faith's future

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 15, 2011; 11:15 AM

BERLIN - Germany's bishops say Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to his homeland will focus on the future of faith in a country that saw record numbers of Roman Catholics leave the church in 2010.

Germany's Bishops Conference said Tuesday that Benedict will start his Sept. 22-25 tour, his first state visit here since becoming pope, with official meetings and an address to parliament in Berlin. Meetings with Jewish and Muslim leaders are expected.

The pontiff will celebrate Mass in Erfurt, in the former eastern German state that was home to Martin Luther's Reformation, and visit a chapel along Germany's former east-west border to honor the church's role in ending the Cold War.

Freiburg diocese will be his final stop, with a youth meeting and a Mass at the airport.

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