Festival of faith in the starting blocks

Normally, politicians face the questions of the capital correspondents in the House of the Federal Press Conference, but this Wednesday it was different. In front of the blue wall, Archbishop Zollitsch took a seat with his colleagues to discuss the upcoming papal visit to Germany. The journalists were mainly interested in the costs and counter-protests.

The bishops are relaxed about the planned protests. They are also part of a functioning democracy, said Berlin Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki. The right also applies to members of the Bundestag who wanted to stay away from the Pope's speech in the Bundestag, he said. Woelki emphasized, however, that he would like them to first listen to the Pope and then critically examine the contents. In addition, the archbishop pointed out that Benedict XVI. to speak in the Reichstag at the invitation of the Bundestag president.

Zollitsch regrets absence of some delegates
The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, also said he regretted the absence of some delegates at the Pope's speech. He respects however, if they wanted to make their opinion known thereby. He said the pope is also prepared for protests and knows how to deal with them. Some deputies of the Left Party, the SPD and the Greens have announced that they will support the Bundestag at the Pope's 22. September to leave.
Protest at Brandenburg Gate prohibited
On Wednesday, the Berlin assembly authorities banned a planned anti-pope rally at the Brandenburg Gate. A protest event at this location would "directly" endanger public safety, they said in justification. Instead, the opening rally of the planned protest procession is now to take place at Potsdamer Platz and thus at a greater distance from the Reichstag building.

The German bishops' conference repeatedly defended the cost of the pope's visit. "It should be a celebration of faith for as many faithful as possible, and that costs money," Archbishop Zollitsch said. The event should also be broadcast worldwide by the media, he said. He stressed that because of the estimated cost of about 30 million euros, there would be no reduction in aid to developing countries.

Fund for aid in the countries of East Africa
Zollitsch also announced that the Bishops' Conference would set up a fund for aid in the countries of East Africa on the occasion of the visit to Germany. The "Benedict East Africa Fund" should benefit the needy there, give them opportunities for education and hope for work. The secretary of the bishops' conference, Father Hans Langendorfer, said the pope had not been promised a specific sum of money. It is the responsibility of the dioceses how they raise the money for the fund. This would allow them to hold an appropriate collection or carry out fundraising activities. Pope Benedict XVI. comes from the 22. until the 25. September to Germany. He will visit Berlin, Erfurt, Eichsfeld and Freiburg.

"This is an exhausting journey, a devoted journey of a man who is visiting his homeland in global responsibility," Father Hans Langendorfer, the general coordinator of the pope's visit, described the trip as early as Tuesday evening. Langendorfer, who is secretary of the German Bishops' Conference, warned against exaggerated expectations for the meeting of Pope Benedict XVI. with the Evangelical Church in Germany. On 23. The conference in Erfurt on September 9 was not expected to produce "anything fundamental" in the sense of a new understanding of the church or a new position on the Lord's Supper of the churches of the Reformation. Many open questions could only be answered in protracted trials.

Langendorfer referred to the visit of Pope John Paul II to Germany. in 1980. At that time, a Joint Ecumenical Commission was established, under whose mandate a working group on mutual doctrinal condemnations of the churches in 16. Century advised. He came to the conclusion that the condemnations of the other denomination at that time no longer affect the present partner.

Speculation about possible meeting with abuse victims
It remained unclear whether the pope would have been arrested during his stay in Germany from 22. by 25. September plans a meeting with victims of abuse. He had no information on this, said the general coordinator of the Pope's trip, Hans Langendorfer. He added that a meeting with victims of sexual abuse, such as had taken place in Great Britain, was nevertheless "quite conceivable in our country as well".

Bishop Joachim Wanke of Erfurt called the Pope's visit to eastern Germany "a millennium event". Referring to the difficult situation of the Catholic Church in the new federal states, he said: "I expect a word of recognition and encouragement."At the same time, Wanke appealed to the Protestant Church not to slacken in its efforts for ecumenism. He stressed that there was a "mutual debt to pay".

250.000 believers registered for church services
According to the general coordinator of the Pope's trip, Hans Langendorfer, 250 have registered so far.000 faithful for church services with Benedict XVI. at. Among them were more than 6.000 pilgrims from abroad, he said. According to Langendorfer, the pope's visit will cost the Catholic Church 25 to 30 million euros.

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Christina Cherry
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