Clear words from the beginning

Already the first official speeches in the context of the Pope's visit Benedict XVI. pointed the way: not only friendly banter, but also the addressing of sensitive ies. Pope Benedict XVI. Emphasized that society needs a profound cultural renewal and the rediscovery of fundamental values on which a better future can be built. President Wulff appealed to the Catholic Church to show more mercy and to open up.

Pope Benedict XVI. highlighted the importance of religion for human coexistence at the start of his tour of Germany. Religion is a foundation for successful coexistence, the Catholic Church leader said during his meeting with German President Christian Wulff on Thursday in the garden of Bellevue Palace in Berlin. There is a need for "a binding basis for our living together, otherwise everyone will only live his individualism".

The pope expressed his conviction that his official visit "will further strengthen the good relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See". But he had not come primarily "to pursue certain political and economic goals, as other statesmen rightly do, but to meet people and talk about God".

Speaking about his homeland, Benedict said, "The Federal Republic of Germany has become what it is today through the power of freedom shaped by responsibility before God and before one another." Germany needs "this dynamism, which involves all areas of the human, to be able to continue to develop under the current conditions".

Wulff defends pope's trip and urges opening up of church
German President Christian Wulff has welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Germany. defended against criticism. The visit will strengthen Christians and "help us all find orientation and standards," Wulff said in his address. The Pope's welcome at Wulff's official residence, Bellevue Palace, marked the start of Benedict XVI's four-day visit to Germany.

Wulff emphasized that a "longing for meaning" is growing in Germany and elsewhere. This is an opportunity and responsibility for the churches and religious communities. At the same time, he said, religious ties can no longer be taken for granted. Addressing the pope, the German president said, "You are coming to a country in which the Christian faith is no longer self-evident, in which the church must redefine its place in a pluralistic society."

Wulff called on the churches not to retreat on themselves "despite austerity measures and a shortage of priests. The Federal President continued: "What the Christian churches are doing in diakonia and charity in caring for the poor and weak in our country and all over the world is simply great and indispensable for cohesion!" Church and state are rightly separated in Germany, he said. But he said the church should not see itself as a "parallel society": "It lives in the middle of this society, in the middle of this world and in the middle of this time."

Wulff appealed to the Catholic Church to show more mercy and open itself up. For example, he said, it should be asked how it deals "with breaks in people's lives" or what place lay people have next to priests and women next to men. The head of state also mentioned dealing with the ie of abuse and ecumenical dialog. Wulff said he was pleased that the German bishops had begun a process of dialogue on the future of the church. "I know from many conversations that not only the laity expect a lot from this," said the German president, who is Catholic and remarried after a divorce.

Pope speaks on plane about protests and abuse
During his flight to Germany, Pope Benedict XVI had. Expressed understanding for the protests in his home country. "Protests are normal in a secularized democratic country," Benedict XVI said. in a brief conversation with the journalists traveling with him. However, he said many also had "great expectations and great sympathy for the pope". And in many sectors of the German population, there is also a growing longing for a voice of morality in society.

The Pope also commented on the subject of abuse: "I can understand that in the face of crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors by priests, people close to the victims say: this is not my church, the church is a force of humanity and morality, and if its own people do the opposite, I can no longer be in this church.". He said the church must learn to endure such scandals and resolutely fight any abuse.

He was very much looking forward to the visit, stressed the pope, who answered a total of four journalists' questions – three of them in German, one in Italian. Benedict XVI added that he was particularly looking forward to the encounter with Protestant Christians. From the beginning of the planning of the trip, he understood the ecumenism as an important accent of his journey.

He said he was grateful to the Protestant Christians for allowing a meeting to take place at the historic site of the former Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, where Martin Luther received his theological and spiritual training. Especially in today's secularized society, the common witness of Christians is urgently needed, even if there continue to be considerable differences between Protestant and Catholic Christians, the pope said.

The Pope answered the question whether he still felt German after more than 30 years in the Vatican with a clear yes. He was shaped by his birth, by linguistic formation and by the culture of the country – with its size and gravity, he said. Even today, he continues to read more books in German than in other languages. But for the Christian, baptism adds membership in the community of the church, especially since he has supreme responsibility for this church, the pope said.

Merkel talks with Pope about Europe and financial markets
On the day of the pope's visit, not everything goes as usual, even for a German chancellor: "I still have to meet my husband somewhere," says Angela Merkel, looking questioningly at her security officers. After her talks with the Pope, they escorted the Chancellor through the many corridors of the Catholic Academy in Berlin.

In a small courtyard at the headquarters of the German Bishops' Conference, the CDU chairwoman informs about her meeting with Pope Benedict XVI., to which her husband Joachim Sauer also added. Merkel speaks in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, with snipers lying diagonally above her on the roof of the academy. The building is widely cordoned off, delegations can only keep up with security officers at a walking pace.

Merkel, accompanied by Archbishop Robert Zollitsch and Prelate Karl Justen, says that the topics of Europe and the financial markets in particular came up for discussion. It became clear that politics "should have the power to shape things for the people, and not be driven". This is a very big task in the age of globalization, he said.

As a gift, Merkel presented the Pope with a sheet of music with Gregorian chants from a German missal from the 14th century. until 17. Century. The pope returned the favor with a majolica, a ceramic decorated with a fountain motif from the Vatican gardens.

Friendly atmosphere during conversation
Before the visit, there had been irritation about the location of the meeting. Merkel wanted to receive the German pope in the chancellery, the pope preferred the nunciature in Berlin-Neukolln, his embassy in the capital city. The choice then fell on a more neutral location, the Catholic Academy at the Berlin headquarters of the German Bishops' Conference. Merkel now diplomatically says she is pleased that the Pope "is not only in the beautiful nunciature, which is wonderful, but also at the headquarters of the German Bishops' Conference and here in the Catholic Academy, which also means a lot to me personally". Spiritual life under the sign of Christianity distinguishes this place.

Pope spokesman Federico Lombardi added afterwards that the conversation had taken place in a "very friendly atmosphere" and that the Pope's criticism of Merkel in 2009 over the rehabilitation of Holocaust denier Richard Williamson had "absolutely not" weighed on the conversation. In fact, he said, the pope took the opportunity to express his great appreciation for Germany. He also emphasized Germany's important role in the euro crisis.

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