Thousands at pope's final Mass in Germany

September 25, 2011 - 5:10 AM
Germany Pope Visit

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate a mass in front of the St. Mary's cathedral in Erfurt, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. Pope Benedict XVI is on a four-day official visit to his homeland Germany. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

FREIBURG, Germany (AP) — Thousands of faithful, cheering and waving flags, have turned out for the final Mass of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to his native Germany.

Applause erupted as Benedict arrived Sunday morning at a vast field beside an airport in Freiburg.

The pope's four-day state visit comes as Germany's church has been losing tens of thousands of followers amid revelations that hundreds of children and young people were abused by clergy and church employees. There have also been scattered protests denouncing the Vatican views on homosexuality, contraception and other issues.

Benedict alluded to the dissent in Catholic ranks Saturday night when he said that through the years "damage to the church comes not from opponents, but from uncommitted Christians."