Monday, August 15, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI Prepares for Visit to Germany

Pope Benedict XVI is busy preparing for his second trip outside Vatican City when he travels on August 18, 2005 to Cologne, Germany for World Youth Day. I haven’t seen much German TV news coverage of this important event in the past few days so I thought I would look into what’s going on. This excerpt from Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel International - English Summaries for August 15, 2005 “Coming Home to the Unbelievers” helps explain what Pope Benedict will be facing on his return to the land of his birth, Deutschland:

SPIEGEL cover story: When Pope Benedict XVI lands in Cologne to attend World Youth Day, he will be setting foot in a country to which he has become a stranger. The churches are empty, politicians have no religious beliefs, and people in the east have no God at all. Now the biggest religious festival of the post-war era is meant to serve as a starting point for a new religious consciousness. With World Youth Day, the Roman Catholic Church wants to capture the attention of a youth that has grown up with little moral direction. The Pope is sure to evoke cheers from the young visitors - most of them Spanish, Italian and French - on Cologne's Rheinwiesen and in Marienfeld. Perhaps he will even succeed in finding a language of gestures and symbols without copying his predecessor. But what happens once the event is over?

In my opinion, the Pope will be traveling to (somewhat) hostile territory albeit the Germans will certainly put on a good show for such a high profile visit of a local boy who’s made good. Of course there is a lot of support for the new Pope around Koeln (Cologne) as it is at the heart of Catholic Deutschland and home to the fabulous Gothic cathedral the Koelner Dom. I happen to live up North in Luther’s Territory where Catholics (still) fear to tread. Of course I try to get along with people of all religious faiths. It is the way I was taught back home and I strongly believe in the principles of religious tolerance and respect. Everywhere.

Here are some additional views from the international press and a blogger on the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Germany:

Der Spiegel International (English Edition) – Opinion- July 29, 2005:
A Cold Wind from Rome

Catholic News Service August 11, 2005:
Pope’s visit to Germany will return young papacy to world stage

USA Today for August 10, 2005:
Religion Takes a Back Seat in Western Europe

Google News Search:
Pope Benedict XVI to Visit Germany

UCLA Law School - Professor Stephen Bainbridge’s blog:
Exclusive (anonymous) Photos of Pope Benedict XVI preparing his secret formula to win back the Lost Lambs of Deutschland.

O.K. I thought I would add a little humor to the end of the story for my German readers. Professor Bainbridge is certainly going to Hell for this one Boy. You Infidel!!

Last-Minute Papal Update!
Here is a blog post (auf Deutsch, German) about a Radio Vatican interview with Pope Benedict XVI speaking about his upcoming visit to World Youth Day in Cologne. A big "Hat Tip" to fellow blogger Matthias Heil for his cool posting with mp3 file download on The Pope. Matthias is a high school teacher of English and Religion at the Winfried Schule in Fulda, Germany.

Does this mean that The Vatican is moving into Podcasting soon? Maybe this Pope ain't so backwards as the (German) press has been trying to portray him. He's just different, that's all.


Imnakoya said...

I couldn't help but wonder what religion has turned to in some regions of the world. Going by your post, the pope has some uphill tasks ahead. Historically, prophets are accorded the least respect at home...even if "the churches are empty, politicians have no religious beliefs, and people in the east have no God at all"...many faithfuls abound elsewhere, particularly in Africa.

Black River Eagle said...

Religion is a particularly hot-button subject here in Germany as there are so many people young and old who have turned away from "the church" and belief in (a) God.

The reasons behind this are complex but some here have tried to explain it to me as having to do with the collapse of the country during and after WWII and the genocidal acts carried out against Jews and certain ethnic groups in Europe by the Nazis.

I've just had the opportunity to watch Live on TV Pope Benedict's visit to the main Jewish synagogue in Koeln (Cologne) and listen to the prayers and speeches from the Jewish rabbis and elders and from the Pope "auf Deutsch (in German)" and in Hebrew. Cologne was home to the oldest Jewish community in what was then called Germania and the first Jewish settlers arrived there around A.D. 346.

It should also be noted that African dignataries and funtionaries of the early Roman Catholic Church were also in Cologne during the past several hundred years. Pope Benedict XVI reminded people about that fact during his arrival speech in front of Cologne's famous Gothic cathedral "Dom" at the Rhine river yesterday. After all, there have been a total of 3 African popes over the past two millenia and lots of bishops and cardinals. Africans have a long and solid history in Germany but you won't find much about that in any of their school textbooks.

I think that this is the first visit by a German pope to Cologne's cathedral in over one thousand years and the 1st visit by a pope to a Jewish synagogue in Germany ever. Powerful stuff.

I'd say that Pope Benedict XVI has taken Germany by storm without putting on a big show and contrary to the predictions by the pundits and corrosive German news media. Pope Benedict XVI may be strict and conservative but one thing is coming through loud and clear: this Pope is for real when it comes to his faith and his mission and he has no problem in expressing this clearly to all who are watching and listening.

It's most enjoyable for me personally to be able to watch these historic events and not require a translator or have to settle for a 10-minute "news summary" from CNN or BBC. I hope that people here in Germany and everywhere else gets the main message of the Pope:

Don't be afraid to believe and trust in God. Don't be afraid.