Pope Benedict XVI rode through a cheering crowd that gathered to hear him celebrate open-air Mass yesterday on the outskirts of Munich, part of his six-day homecoming visit to his native Bavaria.
The pope, who says his heart "beats Bavarian," smiled and waved to the crowd from his popemobile on his way to the raised altar platform. People along his route flew yellow-and-white Vatican flags, Bavaria's blue-and-white flag and flags from Germany, Mexico, Croatia, Slovakia and Poland.
In the crowd, Johann Habla, 76, praised Benedict's touch with the young: "He reaches young people ... If they all go to church is another matter, but perhaps something will remain."
Gerda Holzinger, 57, said that since Benedict became pope last year she was seeing a new side of the conservative former theology professor, who served as the city's archbishop from 1977 to 1982.
"Cardinal Ratzinger was for us a stubborn theologian; now he is opening up, and a different person is coming out," she said.
"I find him good. He sticks to the old values, which have been good for 2,000 years," she said.
Benedict arrived on Saturday on a six-day trip in Munich, which he left in 1982 when he moved to Rome as the Vatican's chief doctrinal watchdog.
The pope is expected to appeal to his homeland -- now largely secular, with a shrinking and more liberal Catholic Church -- to return to its Christian faith.
He also planned to make a brief visit to Marktl am Inn, the small town where he was born, and to Freising, where he was ordained a priest. He taught theology at the University of Regensburg in the region before being named bishop, he still has a house in the city and his brother Georg, a retired priest and choir director, lives there.
Police said that vandals tossed balloons filled with blue paint at the home of Benedict's birth in Marktl am Inn early yesterday. The damage was not serious and Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi dismissed the incident as "really secondary."
HOUSES FLOODED: The ground shook in Tonga as explosions were heard, followed by gushing water and pelting rocks, sending people running to higher ground A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital and smothered it in dust, but the full extent was not apparent with communications still cut off yesterday. The eruption on Saturday was so powerful that it was recorded around the world, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the US. Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, suffered “significant” damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that there had been no reports of injury or death, but a full assessment was not possible with communication lines down. “The tsunami has
‘ZERO’ STRATEGY: Carrie Lam said the airline faced a probe over its compliance with the rules after an outbreak was traced to air crew who breached quarantine Cathay Pacific is being investigated and faces possible legal action over an outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong that began with the airline’s employees, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said yesterday. The revelation came as Lam announced the suspension of all kindergarten and primary schools until after the Lunar New Year early next month. Like China, Hong Kong maintains a “zero COVID” strategy that has largely cut the international finance hub off from the mainland and the rest of the world for the past two years. A recent outbreak traced to Cathay Pacific air crew who breached home quarantine has sparked
Japan extended measures barring almost all new foreign arrivals until the end of next month and is to reopen mass vaccination centers as it battles an surge of COVID-19 cases, the government said yesterday. “We will keep the current border control policy until the end of February while taking necessary measures from a humanitarian viewpoint and considering the national interest,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. Local media said that there would be some new exemptions for members of Japanese families as well as students studying in Japan, but there were no immediate details from officials. The government is also to reopen
PORT CONGESTION: Ships heading for Omicron-affected Dalian and Tianjin are being redirected to Shanghai, which does not have the capacity for the sudden cargo influx China has detected the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in a second major port city, deepening concern that the vastly more infectious variant could spread quickly across the world’s largest trading nation, upending global supply chains. Chinese officials said yesterday that at least one person has Omicron in Dalian, a city of 7 million. A second person also tested positive for the virus, but the variant is unknown. Both are college students who returned home for the Lunar New Year holiday from Tianjin, where at least 137 other cases were traced as of Wednesday. Dalian joins Tianjin as the second crucial port city