.- Pope Benedict XVI told the people of Freiburg that he had come “in order to pray together” and “to proclaim the word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist.”
The trip to the city in the south west of Germany is the third and final leg of the Pope’s state visit to his homeland. Unlike his previous destinations, Berlin and Erfurt, Freiburg is predominately Catholic. Its residents opted out of the Protestant Reformation in 1520.
Pope Benedict arrived at the nearby Lahr Airport just before 1 p.m. From there, he made his way to the local cathedral, the “Munster,” which is dedicated to Our Lady. The pontiff made the last part of the journey by Popemobile, much to the delight of the sizable crowds.
After praying the Angelus in the cathedral, the Pope then emerged to greet local people gathered in the town’s Cathedral Square. He began by reminding them of the motto for his visit: “Where God is, there is a future.”
“As the Successor of Saint Peter, who was commissioned by the Lord to strengthen his brethren, I too have come willingly to you, in order to pray together with you, to proclaim the word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist,” said the Pope.
He then asked for their prayers so that “these days will be fruitful, that God will deepen our faith, strengthen our hope and increase our love.”
The itinerary for the Pope’s visit to Freiburg includes a prayer vigil with young people this evening and an open-air Mass tomorrow. He said he hoped the events of the next 24-hours will help the people of the city “become aware once more how much God loves us and how good he is, so that we may trustingly place ourselves and all our cares and concerns into his hands.”
“In him our future is assured,” said the Pope. He added that Jesus “gives meaning to our lives and can bring them to fulfillment.” He then imparted his apostolic blessing.
The Pope followed his public address with a private meeting with the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Chancellor Kohl, now aged 81 and in a wheelchair, oversaw the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990. Pope Benedict himself specially requested the meeting.