.- A delegation from the German city of Freising met with Pope Benedict XVI just after noon on Saturday to confer honorary citizenship on him. The Pope accepted the gesture and used the occasion to reaffirm the role of the Church in today's society.
The Holy Father addressed the delegation, in his mother tongue of German. "Tu es Petrus", an Italian website, provided an early translation of the Pope's words.
As he accepted the honor, the Pope reflected on the Church which, much like the structure of the cathedral of Freising in the Bavarian landscape, has a "firm place in our society, in our history and in our culture which we cannot dismiss."
"We need the Church, we need Christians, men, women, families, priests and religious that teach our children faith, hope and love, that lead today's society to a profound cultural renewal and to the rediscovery of spiritual values of which the world today has so much need and only on which one can build a good and dignified future."
The honor is especially meaningful for Pope Benedict as he had studied in Friesing after World War II, taught there shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, in 1951, and was eventually be named the Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977 by Pope Paul VI, a position he held until 1982. At that point, Pope John Paul II named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.