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


Stats for August 2011

Despite my two-week absence from the blogosphere, the past month managed to see 3,779 page views. It’s the lowest total since December, sure, but it goes to show that I can be away from the blog for a while without numbers plummeting completely into the single digits. In the top 10 of most popular posts we’ll see which topics are responsible for the continuing interest.

Another high point this month was the crossing of the 100,000 threshold. In fact, on the same day that I returned from Spain, 23 August, the 100,000th visitor since January 2010 popped by. It’s only numbers, but it still makes me pleased.

One to the top 10!

1: A priest never walks alone 72
2: Het probleem Medjugorje 61
3: Calling in the bishop 38
4: Blog shutting down. Temporarily, that is & Seculiere deskundigen willen dat de paus zijn beleid aanpast. Hoe kunnen we uitleggen dat hij dat niet kan? 27
5: Double duty: two vicars general for Groningen-Leeuwarden & WYD destinations – Zaragoza & Goodbye, we’ll keep in touch (via social media) 26
6: No refusal allowed for civil servants in Groningen 25
7: Two years in the making, a new archbishop for Luxembourg 24
8: World Youth Days on TV, and my personal blogging plans & Oddie continues where Dolan stopped & The departure begins… 23
9: Congratulations to a Philippine bishop 20
10: Archbishop Dolan explains the Vatican 19

Oddie continues where Dolan stopped

Published on the Translations page yesterday, a translation of this article by William Oddie of the Catholic Herald. I made the translation on the request of Ronald Marks, co-author of Marks & Marks Blogspot.

Odie takes Archbishop Dolan’s recent blog post on the ‘policies’ of the Vatican as a starting point and explores the issue further. He finds that there is an important question that Catholics have yet barely begun to ask themselves: are we able to bridge the gap of understanding between us and the secular world? An important issue, not least in the Netherlands.