• Germany's news in English

Pope says Europe risking its cultural identity

The Local · 22 Sep 2011, 17:49

Published: 22 Sep 2011 17:49 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In a dry, lecture-like address to the Bundestag, the pope touched upon the philosophical concepts of justice, reason and human nature. But he said Europe risked placing too much faith in scientific reason and positivism at the expense of its Christian cultural roots.

“All other views and values of our culture are relegated to a subculture, thereby giving Europe a status of being without culture compared to other cultures of the world at a time when it’s challenged by extremist and radical elements,” the German pontiff said, apparently referring to Islamic extremism.

Click here for Pope protest pictures

The pope also defended the role of nature and God in shaping Europe's cultural and political foundations, warning that a modern trend toward positivism, which he defined as the rule of logic and the rejection of metaphysics, threatened man's very humanity.

"To serve right, and to fight against the dominion of wrong is, and remains the fundamental task of the politician," he said.

The pope, 84, who had to be guided to the podium, also praised the emergence of the ecological movement in his native Germany,

He said it, "continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside just because too much of it is seen to be irrational."

"Young people (have) come to realise that something is wrong in our relationship with nature ... but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives," he added.

His praise for environmentalism managed to get a few chuckles from MPs, as he joked he was not speaking out for the Green party.

“It’s clear I’m not making propaganda for any specific political party here,” he said to laughs.

“We must listen to nature and answer accordingly.”

The speech, which wrapped up with a standing ovation from lawmakers, came amid strong criticism by leaders of the Greens and other left-leaning parties, which said his invitation threatened to undermine the separation of church and state.

Dozens of parliamentarians boycotted the address, with some seats filled by retired lawmakers to avoid too many being left empty.

However, much of the socialist Left party’s section as well as the back benches of the Greens and the Social Democrats remained abandoned, the blue seats a clear indication of their absence.

Story continues below…

At a protest nearby that drew a few thousand people behind police barricades, a Social Democratic member of parliament, Rolf Schwanitz, said he was skipping the speech because it made no sense "to invite the head of a dwarf state (the Vatican) to speak before the Bundestag."

In the 20-minute address, the pontiff avoided the hot-button issues targeted by his critics such as recent sexual abuse scandals and his fervent opposition to abortion, homosexuality and a bigger role for women in the Church.

Some 30 foreign dignitaries have addressed the Bundestag to date, including former US presidents Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, as well as current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin while he was president.

The Local/AFP/mry

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

20:23 September 22, 2011 by george karpouzas
The Vatican may be a dawrf state but it has a tradition and an influence. From the present public figures how many can claim to be in the head of entity comprised by 1.2 billion people of such varied national and racial origins? And moreover to have so much legal power over the entity they preside, as the Roman Pontiff has. Whether the centralising and authoritarian tendencies of the Vatican can come to terms with the permissive and open society of the liberal West and in this particular case Germany, only the future can show...
21:13 September 22, 2011 by melbournite
so the German pope thinks europe should retreat to its mystical, pre-rational, anti-islam past and get back in touch with nature. Spot the ex-hitler youth member
21:43 September 22, 2011 by Keksi
Yay! Back to the dark ages, finally! :)
22:06 September 22, 2011 by Asgarli
Lets burn the witches!!!!
23:30 September 22, 2011 by nathan45
Im not into religion but i agree with the message our population in western nations is stable or slightly declineing. Bringing immigrants from other western nations works great because they share the same or very similar cultures and ways of looking at things.

The issue is people who immigrate here from cultures that clash with our values in france today a muslim woman was fined for whearing a face vail and now she wants to take legal action they will come here and try to change things if they want to wear a mask 365 days a year then go work at a haunted house or go the hell home.
00:19 September 23, 2011 by wxman
He's trying to hold the the place together. Is that so bad?
02:09 September 23, 2011 by baddaboom
news for ya deep thinkers christianity IS a foriegn belief system-from euope any how.

all those storys out the bible?? all of them occur in the mid east egypt etc NONE of them supposedly happened in EUROPE......DUH

so christianity, islam judism are ALL FORIEGN FROM EUROPE belief systems that HAVE NO ROOTS in europes long and determined struggle against the harsh elements and climates that make northern europeans the strongest best looking and smartest people on the planet.

so THERE!!!!!!!!

its all political horses h i t from an a s s h a t who was a nazi and who now parades around in a stupid fancy hat who doesnt know jacks hit about reality


angelia merkal REALLY PISSES ME OFF tht she supports this charade of a CULT for the mere reason she needs all the OLD PEOPLE to vote for her what talking out of the both sides of her mouth B i t c h

she is SUPPOSED to be a QUANTUM NUCLEAR BIOLOGIST she knows the truth about that superstitious cult yet she panders to them for political purposes

of ALL THE LEADERS in the world i thought SHE would have enough of an EDUCATION to be able to say ...NO YOUR NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK IN THE GOVERNMENT you can pray all you want but your BRONZE AGE SUPERSTITIONS are NOT WELCOME in MY government of which i am the leader.

this MAY cost me votes but your so called church is nothing more than a relic and should be consigned to the ash heap of history.
02:09 September 23, 2011 by Keksi

Problem is immigrants from other western nations won't work for a minimum wage. Also would you make the same statement, if you heard the president of Turkey say, that people from the west are not welcome in his country, because they share a different cultural background?

Frances values? I thought you were the guys who brought us humanism, secularism and democracy? How can a government impose a style of clothing? Is this the first step towards a fashion-police? ;)
07:15 September 23, 2011 by marimay
If there is a god, they are wondering, "what the heck is this BS?"
10:35 September 23, 2011 by Brandoboy
@ baddaboom mmm your comment "...make northern europeans the strongest best looking and smartest people on the planet." superiority complex...? after 2 world wars and 100s of million deaths? mmm think again big boy ! go and have a cold shower !
19:19 September 23, 2011 by rick86
I don't care about the pope,myself I have to go with what Jesus said.

Thirty times between Exodus and Numbers it gives the Sabbath as the 7th day and emphasises it to be kept forever or for all your generations.

That being said the vatican has for almost 2 thousand years discounted the Word of God and used the pagan day of worship that old rome used. They don't adhere to the Word of God so they are against God. I defy one person to find a valid reason for worshipping on Sunday. For the first 3 hundred years of Christianity before rome went Christian,Christians worshipped on the same day as Jesus did. The Sabbath is Friday at sundown till Saturday at sundown. What the vatican did was try to usurp the Word of God saying thier doctrine was the true church. Obviously they lied.
21:50 September 23, 2011 by nathan45
@ Keksi there are many eastern europeans who will work for minimum wage the fact that there is many unemployed in germany and other western countries that wont work for mimimum wage disgusts me.

I live in the poorest part of canada with the lowest minimum wage of any province and I work for less than minimum wage even though the taxes are higher here and things other than houses are more expensive but I pull my sleeves up and push that wheel barel across the farm any way and resist the temtation to immigrate.

If turkey where on our border and there was work for me that payed better but the people did not want me or my friends who work in the same situations as in the country I would stay away or mabe go for a short while to earn some cash and return home not settle and bitch that their country wasnt western friendly enough for me.
14:54 September 24, 2011 by MichaSeifert-Weiss
Baddaboom, if you have a leader such as Merkel who is respected Internationally for the very successful guidance she has given Germany over her term and you still can't respect the person, then respect the Office of German Chancellor. If you have a criticism of the Pope, make it relevant and refrain from redundant comment on a childhood experience of being a member of a youth group that everyone was a member of - involuntarily.

And Brandoboy - are you really accusing Germans of being responsible for all the deaths from two world wars?! And actually, Germans have done more to develop the world as you now recognise it than any other people has done, medically, technologically, academically, politically, economically...

Having said my piece about earlier posts: It is a pity that politicians chose to boycott the Pope's speech in the Bundestag. It is important to always be informed and maintain our relevance. Turning one's back on such an influential speaker is to cut off your nose to spite your face: It helps nobody and decreases one's ability to connect and to understand social perceptions and machinations, which are always evolving and altering, as we see with the Pope speaking to ecological concerns and later meeting with victims of abuse from within the Church. A politician must be ever connected for all of the constituents and fully informed as possible.
15:19 September 24, 2011 by Bruno53
Well, maybe some "humanists" who likes to preach "reason" should be reminded that us humans are a disaster in using this "reason". If you consider "Angels" don't exist, don't forget that human "reason" has been a complete failure, Maybe good in scientific and technological inventions, but a failure in making us live in peace with one another. Not get so "uppity" about it. We humans still have a "dark side".
Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd