Pope Benedict XVI has arrived in his native Germany for a four-day state visit. The 84-year-old pontiff is due to address parliament later Thursday, though some parliamentarians have said they will boycott the speech.
Merkel and Wulff met the pope on his arrival in Berlin
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Berlin on Thursday morning to kick off his four-day state visit to his homeland, the first ever state visit by the pope to Germany.
The 84-year-old was greeted at Tegel Airport by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff.
Later Thursday, the pontiff is scheduled to speak to the Bundestag, the German parliament, and then celebrate Mass with an estimated 70,000 worshippers at the capital's historic Olympic Stadium.
Around 100 parliamentarians said they would boycott the pope's speech, claiming it is inappropriate for a religious leader to address the German parliament.
Organizers expect some 20,000 demonstrators to gather in the overwhelmingly secular capital to protest the pontiff's visit.
Pope to address sex abuse scandals
The pope is due to speak at the Bundestag on Thursday
During his visit, the pope is expected to hold some 18 sermons and speeches and visit the cities of Erfurt and Freiburg. In Freiburg, he will meet with Protestant leaders for an ecumenical gathering.
Benedict is also expected to meet with victims of abuse committed by clergymen, although the time and place of the meeting has not been made public. He is also expected to address the issue in his speeches.
The Catholic Church has been plagued in recent years by revelations of widespread molestation and sex abuse by priests that have prompted many Germans to leave the church.
Author: Sarah Harman (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler