In the most symbolic moment of his triumphant symbolic moment to his homeland, German-born Pope Benedict visits a Cologne synagogue on Friday that was destroyed by the Nazis during the anti-Jewish Crystal Night riots in 1938.
He will be greeted as a friend, a fact that speaks volumes about how Catholics and Jews in Germany have become reconciled since the Second Vatican Council repudiated the old anti-Semitic notion of the Jews as "Christ killers" 40 years ago.
Benedict, elected to succeed Polish-born Pope John Paul in April, will also make a courtesy visit to German President Horst Koehler in Bonn and meet Protestant leaders - another sign of his efforts to improve relations between churches and religions.
Some 400,000 cheering young Catholics lined the banks of the Rhine and choked the narrow streets of the historic city center on Thursday, giving him a rousing welcome at the start of his visit.
The tone will be more sober at the rebuilt synagogue, one of the largest in Germany, but the welcome will be warm , reports Reuters.
According to guardian in the first address in his homeland Pope said: "With deep joy I find myself for the first time after my election to the chair of St Peter in my beloved homeland, in Germany."
“I thank God who has enabled me to begin my pastoral visits outside Italy with this visit to the nation of my birth,” he added.
"That so many people have come to meet the successor of Peter is a sign of the church's vitality," he went on.
Benedict is a more diffident, professorial figure than his charismatic predecessor, whose giant picture over-shadowed the square next to Cologne's vast Gothic cathedral.
This is a quieter Pope,' Holzer Florian, 30, who was waiting for Benedict to drive past on his way to the Archbishop of Cologne's residence. "I'm from the same area of Upper Bavaria. You have to remember that we Bavarians are conscious of our traditions."
But this did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the tens of thousands of pilgrims, who broke into football style chants of "Ben-e-detto."
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