BERLIN, SEPT. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- One of the collections to be taken up during Benedict XVI’s visit to Berlin later this month will be given as aid to the people of East Africa, who are suffering from drought and famine.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau, president of the bishops’ conference, revealed this Wednesday during a press conference ahead of the Pope’s four-day trip, which will begin Sept. 22 in Berlin.
The archbishop said that the Pontiff’s first official state visit to his homeland will encourage and confirm the faith of the Catholic community at a difficult time.
The Holy Father has visited Germany twice as Pope, but this is the first time he visits at the invitation of German President Christian Wulff.
The archbishop reported that more than 250,000 people have registered for the various events of the visit, and 70,000 are expected for the Mass that will be celebrated in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on September 22 at 6:30 pm.
The cost of the papal visit, estimated to be some €30 million ($40.9 million), will be covered by the German bishops, explained Archbishop Zollitsch. He added that the German government will only pay for security measures, as it would for any other similar public event.
Archbishop Rainier Woelki of Berlin commented on the protests planned during the Pope’s address to the Bundestag, the German parliament, on Sept. 22. Some deputies say it violates Church-state separation, and have said they will leave the hall during the Pope’s visit.
The archbishop of Berlin cautioned that it would be best to first hear what the Pope has to say before criticizing him, and added that the Church is not worried about such initiatives, as Germany is a democratic country where there is freedom of opinion.
Jesuit Father Hans Langendorfer, secretary of the German bishops’ conference and organizer of the trip, added that he hoped that the legitimate liberty of expression would not degenerate into violence.