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MPs to boycott Pope's Bundestag speech

The Local · 13 Sep 2011, 08:03

Published: 13 Sep 2011 08:03 GMT+02:00

Around half the members of the Bundestag from the socialist Left party will leave the German parliament building before the Pope makes his address on September 22, according to MP Petra Sitte.

She told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung they would join expected protesters outside, although The Left’s leadership of Geisne Lötzsch, Klaus Ernst and Gregor Gysi will attend.

The paper said that although one gay MP, Volker Beck of the Greens, had criticised the event, he has decided to stay – although he and his party have been vocal in his support for protesters who were initially only granted permission to rally several hundred metres away at Potsdamer Platz. They have now been permitted to protest at the Brandenburger Tor, which is much closer to the Reichstag building.

The centre-left Social Democratic Party has decided to avoid the prospect of empty seats in its group by filling any gaps with external guests, the paper reported on Tuesday. Rolf Schwanitz, an SPD MP is spokesman for the group “Lay people in the SPD”, which calls for a rigorous separation of church and state. He will take part in the demonstration rather than hear the Pope’s speech.

Former SPD MP Hans-Jochen Vogel defended the invitation extended to the Pope, saying it was not the first time he had addressed a parliament. “He has already been invited by and spoken in front of the United Nations,” he told the paper. He said this month’s speech would probably be the first time that a Pope had addressed representatives for the whole of Germany. Vogel will not be able to be there himself due to appointment clashes.

The Pope will also be addressing the nation on the television, as it was confirmed this week he will present the “Word for Sunday” on September 17 in the ARD state television. The late Saturday night spiritual show will be recorded in the Vatican. Benedict XVI’s predecessor John Paul II was the first Pontiff to present the show in 1987.

Pope Benedict XVI will be in Germany between September 22 and 25, visiting Berlin, Erfurt and Eichsfeld in Thuringia as well as Freiburg.

Story continues below…

The Local/DPA/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:37 September 13, 2011 by adrianthomas
While he is speaking in the building that is still known as the Reichstag, he'll be addressing the parliament or "Bundestag", so the speech is probably more correctly referred to as the "Pope's Bundestag speech".
09:01 September 13, 2011 by freechoice
separation of the church and state is no good, it is Christianity which makes this country great. otherwise we would have bombings and chaos like in the middle east.
10:13 September 13, 2011 by The-ex-pat
@ freechoice.........You talking about the USA?? as it is the Teutonic obsession for following rules that keeps order not religion shown by the very empty churches on a Sunday. Also, bombing and chaos in the middle east, you are showing a very deep religious deficit if you believe that Christianity has not played and does not play any part. From the Crusades to the Lebanese civil war and beyond, Christian's have been just as violent as any of the players in the region. This is without being invaded by two overtly Christian countries, one of which just about holds the view if you are not a Christian you must be a communist. Also, I would hazard a guess, there are more Christian abortion clinic bombers in jail in the USA than than Muslim suicide bombers in Germany. But as long as your God is better than mine....................................
10:38 September 13, 2011 by LancashireLad
¦quot;Lay people in the SPD¦quot;, which calls for a rigorous separation of church and state ...

Am I being too naive in thinking that that is actually the current state? Hmmm. Possibly.

freechoice. Islamic countries - like those in the middle East - don't separate church and state. Still think that's good? Sure you got your facts right?
11:19 September 13, 2011 by ND1000
@The-ex-pat....Bet your a real blast at a party. Completely miserable sod you are.
12:28 September 13, 2011 by Englishted
Is this pope German?

Why did he not have to give up his German citizenship when he became head of a sovereign state namely the Vatican state.

I hope no religious leader is allowed to speak in any elected Parliament again.

@LancashireLad

Yes you are being naive ,all infant schools are Church run at least in my town ,

also you can discriminate in the job market on the grounds of religion .

You also have to opt out of church tax .

German is far from secular sadly.
12:48 September 13, 2011 by LancashireLad
Hi Englishted

Germany is *officially* secular. I asked my question for the very reasons you quote. However, I don't take your point about the infant schools - do you mean "Grundschule", by the way?. In my son's school we were given the choice of "Catholic, Evangelisch or Ethik" but the school itself is state, not church. I don't know of any Catholic schools near us near Munich but admittedly I didn't go looking.

I would like to say I am surprised at discrimination on grounds of Religion being allowed - but again that would probably be naive. I also wonder if you are confusing "can" with "happens anyway". That would be something different.

You don't have to opt out of church tax if your are not Catholic or Evangelisch, so Muslims, Judaists, Shintoists, Bhuddists, etc. - they don't have to pay (I remain to be corrected on this). It took me a while to get the civil servants to understand this when I first registered as I am C of E which is not covered.

Germany is *officially* secular, but I agree totally that in reality it is far from it.
13:18 September 13, 2011 by michael4096
@Englishted

The church does have far too much say in everyday life here in my opinion. However, I disagree with some of your examples.

You cannot discriminate in the job market unless the organization concerned is a religious one. A catholic cannot complain if he's refused a job in a mosque - but, that is the same in every country. For all other organizations you cannot select staff or treat staff differently depending on religion and you (organization principals) are responsible for ensuring there is no bullying or other unpleasant environment.

Opting out of church tax is actually the default. In most companies, all companies I know, they make it very clear that you don't need to tell them your religion at all but if you do it will go into the statistics used to audit religious discrimination. They also point out that there is the opportunity to pay church donations at source (no messy tax reclaims) but it is entirely your choice and there is no compulsion. Some companies also do the same for some charities. It is a shame it is called church 'tax' because it is actually a service to make life easier for people. I have heard that some churches pressure their congregations into using this facility but that is between you and your chosen road to the afterlife. Nothing to do with Germany.
14:31 September 13, 2011 by delvek
Wonderful article and happy to see the Roman Catholic church engaging with government. Its important since their are over 2 billion Christians and the Roman Catholic church is the worlds largest Christian church.

I was at the Vatican a couple of months ago, highly recommend a visit.
16:12 September 13, 2011 by The-ex-pat
11:19 September 13, 2011 by ND1000

@The-ex-pat....Bet your a real blast at a party. Completely miserable sod you are.

lol, you should see me at a wedding reception.
20:01 September 13, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Question: Why is it the folks who tell us to be more tolerant of the beliefs of others, are not tolerant, when it comes to the beliefs of those who are different than their's?

If this was a gay minister, and the CSU, CDU, and/or FDP walked out or did not attend, there would be an uproar of how intolerant they are. But, when the opposite occurs, they walk out and reflect how intolerant they really are. Talk about showing your true self. Actions speak louder than words.
02:02 September 14, 2011 by neunElf
Quite right finanzdoktor!

Whether you a a religious practitioner or not, the role it has played in making our society work as well as it does, should not be underestimated.

I love it when detractors want to talk about the Crusades as an example of Christian barbarism, it's very hard to talk about it in a modern context with any degree of truth that is!

I have no issue with people who don't believe and don't want to be a part of any organized mainstream religion, but I do have a problem with the "tolerant" crowd who never fail to show their intolerance for the many who choose to be a practicing Christian or Jew.
10:39 September 15, 2011 by peeboy
If there is a lot of cost involving security and maintaining law and order during pope's visit . they should just increase the church tax
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