• Germany's news in English

'The MPs who didn't come have missed out'

The Local · 23 Sep 2011, 11:51

Published: 23 Sep 2011 11:51 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Several rows of bright blue seats testified to the absence of a handful of MPs who did not want their places filled to disguise their decision to stay away from the pontiff's speech.

The invitation to address the Bundestag sparked concern among many that it compromised the separation of church and state. This was countered by others who said his visit here was as the head of state of the Vatican – although one of the first things Benedict said himself was that he was not coming to Germany to talk about politics, but about God.

The warm reception he received reflected at the very least the enduring star-appeal of his position, as well as a deep-rooted respect for the Catholic Church in Germany – seen within most parties, not just the conservative Christian Democrats.

Although he has made speeches in the past that have not gone down so well, Benedict’s Bundestag performance was initially well received across the German media.

The Berlin-based centrist daily Der Tagesspiegel wrote, “The MPs who did not come have missed out on much. They are deprived of a pope who movingly said he was honouring the parliament of his German fatherland. A leader of the Catholic Church, the first German pope for half a millennium, who describes himself as a compatriot, 'who remains bound to his roots his life long' – those who only want to see the man as a representative of an authoritarian state organization have been too narrow-minded. They have missed a conciliatory, humorous speaker, who quoted the legal philosopher Kelsen, and said with reference to himself, one can obviously still think sensibly at 84.”

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote, “The appearance of a born German as representative of a foreign state, who calls for his compatriots to have a ‘listening heart’ in his mother tongue is – to say the least – an event of the century. To call upon the political body to become a ‘struggle for justice and to create the conditions for peace,’ could not be done by any other secular guest without appearing presumptuous.

“Considering this message one could be astonished at why the pope as speaker in parliament provoked so much rejection from the start. But in a country of religious as well as permanent political Protestantism as well as well-developed individualism this should actually be no surprise.”

Sensationalist paper Bild wrote, “That was a great day in the history of the German parliament. There spoke a pope who did not proselytize. Who draws his message from the wisdom of his age, from the depth of his belief. That was a great day in the history of the German parliament. There spoke the leader of a billion Catholics across the whole world, of ‘our Basic Law’. Benedict XVI also spoke as a citizen of this country. And he spoke as a European! Human rights, justice, equality of all before the law – that is a gift of this Christian-influenced continent. The pope wants to protect this heritage.

“At a place where politicians often make tin gods of party success, the pope declared the differentiation of good and evil to be the measure of all politics. Reason and cold science alone cannot be allowed to set the rules for people. Here spoke a pope who was buoyant and relaxed. Who also praised the Greens because they, like he, want to protect nature as God’s creation rather than destroy it. In one word he said what many citizens want – politicians need a ‘listening heart’. This papal word will become the basic law of our democracy. Thank you, citizen Benedict!”

The northern regional paper Kieler Nachrichten wrote, “Benedict used his authority in order to call upon the MPs to return. They should, according to his simple reminder, differentiate between good and evil as well as serve justice and peace – only seeming self-evidences which so quickly slip out of focus in the every-day of the modern world.

"That the parliamentary speech despite this, will only develop a limited appeal, lies with Joseph Ratzinger himself. Again, he spoke too little as Benedict and too much as a theology professor. This pope can philosophize blindingly about the basis of justice. Taking doubters with him is, in contrast, much more difficult for him.”

Story continues below…

The Regensburg-based Mittelbayrische Zeitung was more positive, writing, “That was a small philosophical-theological stroke of genius from Pope Benedict XVI yesterday in the Bundestag. The head of the Catholic Church told the parliamentarians politely but clearly how much they owed to the European culture in their roles and duties – namely to serve justice and peace.

"And how little they meet these duties, in partisan struggles for majorities, as well as in the situations where they are freed from their party-line constraints. Whether believers or not – and despite the separation of church and state as regulated in the constitution: when it is about making the right decisions as politicians, one is according to Benedict’s opinion, not badly advised by the principles of Christian action.”

The Local/DAPD/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

13:46 September 23, 2011 by delvek
Great article, thanks.
16:09 September 23, 2011 by derExDeutsche
I'm not a religious person, but I really enjoyed the speeches made by the Pope. Its the first time I have heard him speak German. He had some interesting perspectives, and seemed really sweet and non confrontational. None of which makes the Lefties very happy, I think they would prefer if actual fire shot out of his eyes. They would prefer if Govt. were the ONLY religion.
13:40 September 25, 2011 by frankiep
@derExDeutsche you hit the nail right on the head. These ridiculous leftists politicians do not have a problem with the Pope per se. Their problem is that he represents the over 1 billion people who voluntarily choose to follow a doctrine whose ideals do not bend to the will of government bureaucrats and, more importantly, which gives people something to look to for hope and guidance other than the governments which they can more easily control. Those people who have a tyrannical mentality (i.e. hardcore leftists) simply cannot accept that there are a great many people who prefer to live their lives according to the rules and ideology of something over which they have no influence. So of course, they must do everything they can to discredit, marginalize, and eventually outlaw it just as every other hard left government has done throughout history. Can't have people worshiping anything besides the state now can we.
01:31 September 28, 2011 by ECSNatale
The pope told MPs that they should serve justice and peace, yet he also made calls to all religions to band together against gay marriage, as if denying justice and peace to two people who wish to have a committed relationship sanctioned within the laws of the land is somehow serving that aim.

No, sorry, this is the worst pope at a bad time for the church. Talk all you want about a billion Catholics, but most people with a brain are leaving the church rather than watch them use innocents as scapegoats for their covering up of sexual abuse, power plays and money grubbing.

Belief may be a beautiful thing, but it needs to keep its head out of state business. Pull the veils back from the speech in the Bundestag and look at his overall message. BOO POPE!
18:55 September 29, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
I liked His speech, and thought it inspirational and appropriate for the times. The Pope is a very smart man, and spoke sincerely and without any pompousness. Well done! And yes, DerExDeutsche, you're right - the Lefties would rather he shoot fire from his eyes so they can proclaim "We knew all along he was really the devil!" Those people need to relax and taking their party lines so seriously.
17:43 September 30, 2011 by AlForLife
"This was countered by others who said his visit here was as the head of state of the Vatican ­ although one of the first things Benedict said himself was that he was not coming to Germany to talk about politics, but about God"

Mr. Church and Ms. State - I now pronounce you unified in the presence of Almighty God.

Mr. Church, you may now f*** the bride...
15:25 October 6, 2011 by Mr Goodmorning
Huh? Seperation of church and state in Germany? Isn't Germany the place where churches are supported by taxation and religion is taught in the public schools?
Today's headlines
These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
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
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd