German-born Pope Benedict leaves for Austria on Friday to pay tribute to Austrians killed by the Nazis and encourage the country’s Church which is still living in the shadow of a sex abuse scandal.

The main purpose of the three-day visit — his first trip to another German-speaking country outside his homeland — is to mark the 850th anniversary of the Austrian shrine of Mariazell, one of Europe’s most important sanctuaries dedicated to Mary.

But the visit has wider ramifications as he will discuss global issues in talks with the diplomatic corps of Vienna, home to groups such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

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