In Germany, childish behaviour before the pope comes

Less than two weeks from now, on 22 September, Pope Benedict XVI will begin a three-day state visit to his native Germany. One of the features of the visit is the pope addressing the German parliament in Berlin on the first day of his visit. And, wouldn’t you know, when Church and politicians meet in western Europe, the latter get in a huff. The former communists are already boycotting the pope’s visit to parliament (well, they would, wouldn’t they?), but now the socialists threaten to do the same (well, they also would…). And what do they cite as the reason? The separation of state and Church…

This is getting really old, to be honest. How on earth is a religious leader simply speaking to politicians a case of the Church interfering in affairs of the state? The pope is not coming to enforce Christian teaching, but to inspire and, hopefully, give some people something to think about. The nuncio in Berlin has said as much. And I maintain my claim that if another religious leader, say, the Dalai Lama, were invited to the German parliament, the socialists would be sitting in the front row, so to speak.

In essence, this is childish behaviour of these politicians. I can’t call it anything less. The German parliament is a modern, democratic one, actively supporting human rights and freedom. But when it comes to perceived unpopular truths, some people in that same parliament suddenly think that not all freedoms and rights are applicable to all people. And that’s, I fear, true for most of the sick modern western societies… If it’s difficult, we ban, attack or hide from it. That’s the behaviour of little children. It s also the modus operandi of our society.

The sharp-minded William Oddie has a good piece about the protests which also exist outside the walls of the Bundestag. We’ve seen the true face of these protesters in Madrid and the UK, and there’s little chance that we’ll see anything else in Germany, two weeks from now.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that the anti-papal protesters, after the stunning success of World Youth Day and their humiliating failure – after a vicious and hate-filled campaign – to get on to the national radar during the Pope’s visit to England, would have gone out of business, or at least shut up for a bit.

But no: they’re now smacking their chops over the numbers they think, in their dreams, are going to turn up to protest against the Pope in Germany. “The website Der Papst kommt! [the Pope is coming]”, excitedly reports something called The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason [pah!] and Science, “is the home for a coalition of now 59 and growing, organisations united in criticism of the Pope. It is the nerve centre [ooh, how thrilling, a ‘nerve centre’; probably some scruffy little back room] for organising the upcoming protest which expects 15,000 to 20,000 demonstrators to protest during the Pope’s speech to the Bundestag [Lower House of German Parliament]”. That kind of estimate was made, of course, about the numbers who were going to turn up to the Protest the Pope main demo: it turned out to be (police figures) more like about a paltry 3,000.

Read the rest of Mr. Oddie’s blog at the Catholic Herald.

A shop front in Freiburg, all ready for the papal visit

Photo credit: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

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