Vatican City, May 2, 2004 / 22:00 pm
The Holy Father will travel to Switzerland’s capital, Bern, to attend the national gathering of Catholic youth on June 5 and 6. He will leave Rome by plane on Saturday June 5 at 9.45am and will land in Bern at 11.30am. He will return to Rome on Sunday evening at 8.45pm. The Vatican will soon publish a more detailed itinerary of the trip.
The visit will be John Paul II’s 103rd apostolic trip outside of Italy and his 4th to Switzerland, having visited the country 3 times previously in 1982, 1984, and 1985.
46% of Switzerlands 7 million inhabitants are Catholic, and are now the largest religious group in the country, due in large part to immigration in the late 20th century.
Protestants comprise 40% of the population and are in the minority for the first time since the Protestant Reformation, of which Switzerland was a major center. Among the population under the age of 40, the ratio of Catholics to Protestants is much higher and suggests a further reversal of the post-Reformation religious landscape in the future.