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'I liked the Polish pope better'

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Photo: DPA
07:33 CEST+02:00
As Pope Benedict XVI arrives for an official four-day visit to Germany on Thursday, The Local asked the opinion of average people on the street for the first instalment of our new Zeitgeist series.

The German pontiff will spend from September 22 to 25 in his homeland – his first official trip since becoming the head of the Catholic Church in 2005. Highlights will include a speech to the German parliament and mass for a crowd of over 70,000 at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Excited at first by the prospect of having a pope hail from Bavaria, Germans have since cooled considerably to the man formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger in the wake of a massive child abuse scandal at Catholic institutions in Germany.

A Forsa polling group survey showed only four percent of German said the visit was very important to them, 10 percent said it was rather important, 31 percent said it was not really important to them, while 55 percent said it was not important at all.

The Local hit the Berlin streets to ask average Germans what they thought of the pope's trip to Germany.

Ingrid Straßbourg, 64, retired engineer

“I don't have anything against it. There are also huge ceremonies and to-dos when presidents and others come. (The pope) is also a representative for the people. It should be allowed. But it's not important that he's German. The nationality doesn't matter. I liked the (last) Polish pope better.”

Klaus Peter Schultz, 62, real estate agent

“For those who belong to the Catholic Church, it's a huge event. But it's also an inordinate waste of money. It's hard to believe that it will be spent just like that. If he were really so loved and honoured, then that would somehow work, but he must be doing enough wrong to make all the security measures necessary. And for that sum of money – I can't understand that.”

Michael Köster, 28, works in a book shop

“I didn't even know (the pope) was coming. It doesn't really matter whether he comes or not. They spend a lot for others, too. It's just a normal state visit.”

Anita Rügner, 74, retired

“I was close to him once in Italy. He seemed very likeable, but he's already so old for his job. We'll have to see what (his visit) is like. I think it's a good idea, but the police need to look after him.”

Olga Dembitskaya, 32, student

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“Actually it's interesting that (the pope) can visit different countries and cities, but I'm not really interested in it. I think it's good and a lot of Germans might be interested to see him personally, only I don't know if they'll be able to with all of the blocked streets and (security). I think the money could be used in other ways. There are other areas that are better to sponsor and invest money in. Of course it might be interesting to see him in the Vatican but not in Germany.”

Jörgen Janev, 48, unemployed

“It doesn't matter to me at all. It's all going to be very expensive. It's expensive for the state. We don't have any money anyway, and now (the state) has to pay for this.”

With reporting by Erin Huggins

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