German Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller announced on December 8 that Pope Benedict XVI would visit Bavaria and his own diocese of Ratisbona in September of 2006.
“Today, on the solemnity of Mary Immaculate and commemorating 40 years since the close of Vatican II, I have very a moving announcement for you. As part of his visit to Bavaria, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has announced that our own diocese will also be honored by his visit.”
Bishop Müller said the papal trip is set for September 10-15, 2006, but that the Holy See would make the official announcement in weeks prior to the trip. He also listed the cities which the Pope would visit, including Munich, Ratisbona, Altötting and Marktl am Inn, the Pope’s own birthplace.
Bishop Müller noted that the Holy Father’s ties to Ratisbona not only stem from his years there as a professor of theology but also from family ties, as it is home to his brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, and is the place where his parents and sister are buried.
“We are overjoyed with the visit of the Holy Father,” the bishop said. “We will prepare a very dignified welcome for him, so that everyone in the diocese, parishes, shrines, and Catholic communities are spiritually and theologically prepared for the meeting with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.”
Bishop Müller also recalled that “according to the words of Vatican II, St. Peter and his successors have been called by Christ to be a continuous and visible beginning and foundation of unity in the faith and of communion in the Church.”
On December 8, Bishop Müller had parishes throughout the diocese ring their bells, inviting the faithful to honor the Holy Father, to pray for him and for the universal Church.