Pope Benedict's four-day visit to Germany highlighted two closely connected challenges for the church: how to re-evangelise traditionally Christian countries in the West, and how to regain a credible voice in modern society, reports the Catholic News Service.
In a sense, the Pope's German homeland was a test case for the "new evangelisation" project that has taken center stage in his pontificate, the report said.
Modern Germany is a highly secularised country where atheism or religious indifference is widespread, where traditional moral values are eroding and where the church's message seems to have less and less impact.
And yet Germany has a native son as pope - still a point of pride for many Germans - and a tradition of intellectual debate. At the very least, the pontiff hoped for a fair hearing, and at some levels, he got one.
His address to the German parliament, in which he argued that social justice must be grounded in morality, prompted reflection and discussion in German media. The normally critical weekly Der Spiegel called the speech thought-provoking and "courageous."
The Pope's visit was also designed to reach a wider audience, the millions of Germans who have drifted away from the church or religion. At the trip's first event at Berlin's presidential palace, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich told Catholic News Service that he was convinced these Germans would be listening to the pope - even the skeptics, he said.
Separately, Zenit reports that the pontiff's trip recalled the lessons that must be drawn from the tragedy caused by Nazism.
The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi reportedly told the Vatican Television Center's weekly program 'Octava Dies': "One cannot pass through Berlin without feeling the weight of the darkest page in the history of Germany and Europe in the last century: the madness for power and murder that marked the Nazi era".
Fr Lombardi said that the memory of the Nazis was "powerfully recalled" by Pope Benedict on Thursday in Berlin when he referred to them as a "band of thieves."
Another important moment of the papal visit took place when he received a Jewish delegation, which included witnesses and victims of the Holocaust.
"But the light of those martyred by Nazism shines through the darkness of those times and continues to inspire the building of the future," Fr Lombardi said.
Trip analysis: In pope's Germany, a test case for 'new evangelization' (Catholic News Service)
Benedict XVI recalls dark hour of Nazi era (Zenit)