With an average of three foreign journeys per year from 2006 to 2009, Pope Benedict XVI was as active in visiting other countries as his predecessor, John Paul II, was at the same age from 1999 to 2002. Pope Benedict was more active since then, however, making five foreign journeys each in both 2010 and 2011, significantly more than the six total trips made by Pope John Paul II at the same age in 2003 and 2004. As of the 2012 apostolic journey to Mexico and Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI is older than Pope John Paul II was at the time of his death and is now the oldest Pope to travel outside Europe, as well as being the oldest Pope to travel to Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Australia, or the Americas.
Most of these trips involved the Pope giving speeches on issues that play an important role in the region that he visited, especially on education, contraceptives, abortion, and what it means to be Catholic.
The Pope arrived in Germany on August 18 to participate in the 20th World Youth Day in Cologne. There he met with President Horst Köhler, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Leader of the Opposition Angela Merkel and others, and visited the famous Cologne Cathedral. The Pope visited the synagogue of the Jewish community in Cologne, which is the oldest Jewish community in the world north of the Alps. Benedict and his immediate predecessor John Paul II are the only two popes since St. Peter known to have visited a synagogue. He also spoke with representatives of the Muslim and Protestant communities of Cologne. On August 21, he led a Mass at Marienfeld. The trip was previously scheduled for his predecessor, John Paul II, before his death four months earlier.
The Pope began his visit just after 11 a.m. on May 25, landing at the Okęcie Military Airport in Warsaw. Throughout his visit, he often spoke a few sentences of Polish, which he had learned phonetically. After a welcoming ceremony, Benedict rode in his popemobile to St. John's Cathedral, where he met and addressed a thousand clergymen. He also paid an official visit to the Presidential Palace and later that day attended a meeting of leaders of various religions. The Pope celebrated an open-air Mass on Piłsudski Square in Warsaw on May 26, visited the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa and arrived in Kraków. On May 27 the pontiff went to Wadowice, the birthplace of his predecessor, the sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Łagiewniki and the Wawel Cathedral and addressed young people gathered at Błonia park in Kraków. On the last day of his visit on Sunday May 27, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at Błonia for about 900,000 pilgrims, and later that day prayed at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In Brazil, the Pope visited the sanctuary of Aparecida and the city of São Paulo. He used his travel to Brazil to criticize Mexican lawmakers who legalized abortion. However, the Pope made sure that, although he agreed with Bishops who claimed that politicians in Mexico "excommunicated themselves", there would be no formal excommunication of those individuals.
In Aparecida he addressed the Latin American Bishops' Conference. During his speech, the Pope condemned abortion and the use of contraceptives. He also condemned the negatives of capitalism and also Marxism for its destructive effects on economies, government, and religion. He also said that it is important to prevent Catholics from turning to Protestant religions, and to instead reinvigorate their connection to the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI canonised Friar Antônio Galvão, a Franciscan who lived in the 18th century, at a festive mass before hundreds of thousands of people in São Paulo.
The Pope met with the young people of the world at World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. He celebrated an open-air Closing Mass with the participants at Randwick Racecourse on July 20. To adjust for the time difference, Benedict XVI rested for three days in an undisclosed location in Australia before beginning official engagements.
In Sydney's St. Mary's Cathedral, Pope Benedict XVI made a historic full apology for child sex abuse by court sentenced 107 predatory Catholic priests, inter alia, and clergymen in Australia, on July 19, 2008. Before a 3,400 audience, he called for compensation and demanded punishment for those guilty of the "evil": "Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering." The Pope added: "Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people."
France (September 12 to September 15, 2008)
Pope Benedict visited Paris, meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, before travelling to Lourdes in Southwest France to mark the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary there. At an outdoor Paris Mass attended by 250,000 people, he condemned modern materialism - the world's love of power, possessions and money as a modern-day plague, comparing it to "paganism": "Has not our modern world created its own idols? Has it not imitated, perhaps inadvertently, the pagans of antiquity, by diverting man from his true end, from the joy of living eternally with God? This is a question that all people, if they are honest with themselves, cannot help but ask."
Pope Benedict announced at the closing of a synod of bishops in October 2008 that he would travel to Africa in the spring of 2009. The pope opened a meeting of the African Bishops' Conference in Cameroon. The pope drew criticism for suggesting that condoms were not the answer to Africa's AIDS crisis, but rather, sexual behavior. He then travelled to Angola to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Catholic presence there. During a March 21 mass, the pope urged Catholics to reach out and convert believers in sorcery. During a youth event that day, two women were crushed to death in a stampede.
Jordan, Israel, and Palestine (May 8 to May 15, 2009)
Archbishop's Curia in Malta announced on September 12, 2009 that there was a possibility that Pope Benedict XVI would visit Malta the following year in connection with the 1950th anniversary of the Shipwreck of St Paul on the Maltese islands. On 10 February 2010, Archbishop of Malta Paul Cremona confirmed the Pope's visit was scheduled for 17 and 18 April 2010. The main events during the Pope's visit were the Pope's meeting with The President of Malta and other dignitaries at the President's Palace, Valletta. The Pope was greeted by the children gathered in front of the Palace. The Pope visited also St. Paul's grotto in Rabat, Malta. On Sunday the Pope concelebrated Mass on the Floriana Granaries, Floriana, Malta. An unplanned meeting with victims of sex abuse in Malta was scheduled at the Papal Nuncio in Rabat. During the meeting, Pope Benedict XVI was reportedly reduced to tears. In the afternoon, the Pope crossed the Grand Harbour from Kalkara to the Valletta Waterfront, where he had a one-hour meeting with the young generation. During this two-day visit the Pope travelled through various localities around the island.
Portugal (May 11 to May 14, 2010)
The news was announced on the Web site of the Presidency. The statement from the press service of Aníbal Cavaco Silva said that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Portugal next year, "in response to the invitation addressed by the President." According to the page of the Presidency, "Beyond the official program, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will also go to the Marian Sanctuary of Fatima, where he will preside over the religious ceremonies of May 13." The number of pilgrims attending the Pope's Mass in Fátima was estimated at 500,000.
Benedict visited Berlin, along with the Erfurt diocese in eastern Germany and the Freiburg archdiocese in the country's southwest. This was Pope Benedict's first state visit to his native country as Pope, his first visit as Pope to Berlin, and his third visit overall to his native country as Pope. The Pope departed from Rome's Ciampino International Airport at 8:15 A.M. on Thursday, September 22, landing at Berlin's Tegel International Airport at 10:30 A.M. The welcome ceremony and the courtesy meeting with German President Christian Wulff, took place at Bellevue Castle, the German president's official residence. The Pope then went on to the headquarters of the German Episcopal Conference in Berlin, where he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the afternoon, Benedict visited and gave a speech to the German Parliament, and then meet with members of the local Jewish community. At 6:30 P.M., he celebrated Mass in the Berlin Olympic Stadium. At 9:00 A.M. on Friday, September 23, the Pope met with representatives of the Muslim community at the Apostolic Nuncio to Germany's office, before traveling by plane to the city of Erfurt. There, he visited St. Mary's Cathedral, addressed representatives of the German Evangelical Church Council at St. Augustine's Monastery and participated in an ecumenical celebration. That afternoon he was taken by helicopter to the city of Etzelsbach where at 5:45 P.M. he was due to preside at Marian Vespers at the Wallfahrtskapelle. Following the celebration he returned to Erfurt. On the morning of Saturday, September 24, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the Erfurt Domplatz before travelling by plane to the city of Freiburg im Breisgau where he made a visit to the local cathedral. During the afternoon he went to the local seminary where he met first with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, then with representatives from the various divisions of the Orthodox Church, followed by the seminarians themselves and finally the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZDK). At 7:00 P.M. he presided at a Prayer Vigil with young people at the Fair of Freiburg im Breisgau. At 10:00 A.M. on the following day, Sunday, September 25, he celebrated Mass and prayed the Angelus at the airport of Freiburg im Breisgau. Following Mass, the Pope had lunch with members of the German Episcopal Conference. At 4:20 P.M., he met with magistrates of the German Federal Constitutional Court, then with a group of Catholics active in the Church and society. Following the departure ceremony at Flughafen Lahr, the papal plane departed for the Vatican; it was expected to land at Ciampino International Airport at 8:45 P.M.
Benin (November 18 to November 20, 2011)
Benedict XVI visited Benin at the invitation of the Government and bishops of this country. On the second day of his visit to Benin, the Pope travelled to Ouidah where he called for respect for traditional beliefs. The Pope called for reconciliation at a Mass held in the Friendship Stadium in Cotonou on the final day of the trip.
The Pope arrived in Mexico in the city of León, Guanajuato at 4:12 P.M. CST (UTC−6) on Friday, March 23, 2012 and was received by a crowd of about 4,000 people.President Calderón and first lady Margarita Zavala officially welcomed the Pope during the reception ceremony. President Calderón gave a welcoming speech and minutes later the Pope took the podium. The Pope was scheduled to be in Mexico from Friday, March 23 to Monday, March 26. During his three-day visit, the Pope stayed in a one-story guest house annexed to a K-12 Catholic school, Colegio Miraflores.
Upon his departure from Mexico, the Pope visited the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Havana in Cuba from Monday, March 26 to Thursday, March 29, 2012. He secured the observance of Good Friday as a holiday in the country during 2012, for the first time since the Revolution, a favor he had personally requested of President Raúl Castro during his visit- similar to his predecessor Pope John Paul II's successful personal request of Fidel Castro during his landmark 1998 visit to allow Christmas as a permanent holiday. Relations between the government and the Church have improved noticeably under both Popes and Presidents. The Pope stated on his visit, regarding Cuba, Marxism "no longer responds to reality".
On his first official trip as Supreme Pontiff, the Pope visited the Italian port of Bari on the day of Corpus Christi to close the Italian National Eucharistic Congress and hold a meeting of reconciliation with the Eastern Orthodox Church. This meeting was held in a city related to the Orthodox Church: Bari, located on the Italian Adriatic coast, which is considered a "bridge" between East and West and is home to the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra, a saint of the century fourth and the prototype of Santa Claus, who is also one of the most popular saints in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Pope referred to Bari as a "land of encounter and dialogue" with the Orthodox Church in his homily at the Mass. It was the first trip out of Rome since he was elected the 265th leader of the Catholic Church on April 19, 2005.
On the occasion of the Regional Meeting of Families and Youth. The visit had three major events: a Mass at the Foro Italico in Palermo, an encounter with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Cathedral and the meeting with young people in Plaza Politeama.
^Pope Paul VI was the first Pope to travel outside Europe, and Pope Benedict has now attained a greater age than either Paul VI or John Paul II, while continuing to travel outside Europe at ages they never reached.