.- Pope Benedict XVI will return home to his native Germany for a visit next fall.
The Pope's return will be "a sign of encouragement and confidence," said the head of the German bishops conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau, in a Nov. 19 statement.
The Pope accepted an offer extended by German president Christian Wulff and nation's bishops to visit the Archdioceses of Berlin and Freiburg and the Diocese of Erfurt. The trip will likely take place in September 2011, although no specific dates have been decided.
The visit is the fourth to a European nation outside of Italy on the pontiff's 2011 calendar. He will also be visiting San Marino, Croatia and Spain.
The Pope's time in Germany "will be a significant moment in the life of our country and in the life of our Church," said Archbishop Zollitsch.
His previous travels to Germany as Pope were to Cologne for World Youth Day in 2005 and a pilgrimage he made back to his roots in Bavaria in 2008.