VATICAN CITY, JUL 20, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the official program of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Cologne, Germany, from August 18 to 21 for the 20th World Youth Day.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Ciampino airport at 10 a.m. on Thursday, August 18, and is due to arrive at the international airport of Cologne/Bonn at midday. Following a welcome ceremony he will travel by car to the archbishopric of Cologne. In the afternoon he will go to the Rodenkirchenbrucke wharf, whence a boat will take him along the river Rhine to the Rheinwiesen wharf where he will be welcomed by young people. The Holy Father will then travel back by boat to the city of Cologne where he will visit the cathedral.

On Friday, August 19, the Pope will celebrate a private Mass in the archbishopric of Cologne before travelling by car to Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn where, at 10.30 a.m., he is scheduled to pay a courtesy visit to Horst Kohler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany. At midday he is due to visit the synagogue in Cologne and at 1 p.m. will return to the archbishopric for lunch with a group of young people. At 5 p.m. he is due to meet seminarians at the church of St. Pantaleon in Cologne and will then return to the archbishopric to participate in an ecumenical meeting.

On Saturday, August 20, having again celebrated a private Mass in the archbishopric, the Holy Father will receive in audience various political and civil leaders: Gerhard Schroeder, federal chancellor; Wolfgang Thierse, president of the parliament; Angela Merkel, president of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union); Jurgen Ruttgers, minister president of North Rhine Westphalia, and a number of local authorities. At 6 p.m. he will meet representatives of Muslim communities. Later he will travel by car to the large open grounds of Marienfeld where he will join young people in a vigil due to last until 10.30 p.m.

At Marienfeld, at 10 a.m. on Sunday, August 21, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass then pray the Angelus. After lunch in the archbishopric he will go on foot to the "Piussaal" of the seminary of Cologne where he will meet the bishops of the German Episcopal Conference. Later, and after having greeted members of the organizing committee of WYD 2005, he will travel by car to the international airport of Cologne/Bonn where the departure ceremony is due to be held at 6.45 p.m. The Pope will then board his aircraft and return to Rome, arriving at around 21.15 p.m.

For the occasion of Benedict XVI's visit to Germany, some statistics concerning the Catholic Church in that country are given below:

Germany has 82,520,000 inhabitants of whom 27,411,000 are Catholics, around 33.2% of the total. There are currently 105 bishops, 18,826 priests, 36,323 religious and 3,561 seminarians.

The Catholic Church in Germany runs 10,307 educational institutes including nursery, primary and secondary schools and universities, with a total of more than 959,000 students. She also directs 536 hospitals, 1,359 clinics, 2,588 homes for the elderly and disabled, 1,298 orphanages and creches, 2.030 centers for the family and the protection of life, and 1,331 special centers for social education and re-education.


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