Rome Pope Benedict XVI voiced hope that his upcoming trip to his native Germany for a youth gathering would spur a new European wave of faith, to counter what he described as a spiritual "fatigue" on the traditionally Christian continent.
In the interview with Vatican Radio's German edition broadcast Sunday, the pope also said "providence wanted my first trip abroad to take me to Germany."
Benedict will fly to Cologne on Thursday to begin a four-day visit for World Youth Day, a Catholic jamboree of rallies and religious services with young people. His predecessor, Polish-born John Paul II, had announced the choice of Cologne for the event, which is held every couple of years in a different part of the world and draws hundreds of thousands of participants.
He said the goal of the event was "a wave of new faith among young people, especially the youth in Germany and Europe."
In Germany, "many Christian things occur, but there is also a great fatigue, and we are so concerned with structural questions that the zest and the joy of faith are missing," the pontiff said.
During the trip to Germany, Benedict will meet with Muslim and Jewish groups, and will visit a Cologne synagogue wrecked in the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom and rebuilt in the 1950s.