Pope Benedict XVI returned to his native Germany Thursday to meet with political leaders and address as many as 70,000 people at Berlin's Olympic stadium.
The pontiff was greeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff at Berlin's Tegal airport as he began his four-day journey, Sky News reported.
The pope's itinerary also includes visits to Erfurt in the former East Germany and Freiburg in the southwestern region of the country.
While traveling from Italy, Pope Benedict said he didn't mind protests as long as they were "civil."
"It's normal in a free society marked by strong secularism," he said. "I respect those who speak out."
Left-wing politicians said they would boycott his speech before parliament.
"It will do the pope good to come to Berlin and sense what reality is in the year 2011," said Claudia Roth, co-leader of the opposition Greens political party, amid assertions the pope's address would undermine church-state separation.
The 2005 election of Joseph Ratzinger, born in Marktl am Inn, marked the first time a German was elevated to pope in hundreds of years. However his papacy has been clouded by revelations last year of widespread molestation by German priests during the last several decades, prompting thousands of Catholics to leave the church, Sky News said.
The Vatican indicated Pope Benedict likely would visit with sexual abuse victims, as he has during visits to Ireland and Malta.