Beliefnet
Vatican City, July 20 - Pope Benedict XVI will visit a synagogue, address Muslims and meet with representatives of other Christian denominations during next month's trip to his native Germany for the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day, the Vatican said Wednesday.

The first officials details to be released for the Aug. 18-21 trip underlined the German-born pope's efforts to reach out to other religions since his April election to the papacy. He is scheduled to make an hourlong visit to the Cologne, Germany, synagogue, which was destroyed by the Nazis, and deliver a speech there Aug. 19.

Later that day he will meet with other Christian groups.

On Aug. 20, he will address representatives of the Muslim community at the Cologne archdiocese headquarters.

Hundreds of thousands of young people are expected to attend the Youth Day events, which will end Aug. 21 with an open-air Mass.

Jewish leaders have praised Benedict's work to improve relations between Jews and Catholics during his years at the Vatican before assuming the papacy. Benedict served in the Hitler Youth as a teen and later deserted from the German army in the waning days of World War II.

The Cologne synagogue was destroyed in the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom and was rebuilt during the 1950s.

Highlights of the trip include meetings with German political leaders, including Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and conservative opposition leader Angela Merkel.

Benedict also will take a cruise on the Rhine.

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