Benedict in Germany to speak about God – understands disaffection

It was a busy time for Pope Benedict in Germany. Although not without some criticism and protest, Pope Benedict has received an exuberant welcome from his fellow countrymen. In his opening address the Pope said, “I have not come here primarily to pursue particular political or economic goals, as other statesmen rightly do,” he said, “but, rather, to meet people and to speak about God.”

Benedict had told reporters on his flight to Germany that he sympathised with the thousands who had turned their backs on the Church over the paedophile scandals: “I can understand that in the face of such reports, people, especially those close to victims, would say ‘this isn’t my Church anymore’,” he said

On Friday the he met with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and expressed regret for their suffering.  A Vatican official said after the meeting that the Pope was “moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims.”

Pope Benedict met with representatives of the Lutheran Church. Nikolaus Schneider, the head of the Lutheran Church said he had conveyed the message to the Pope that his flock was not satisfied with current relations with the Vatican. “Our hearts are burning for more and that could be sensed today.”

In his farewell address Benedict said that while his visit was particularly aimed at the Catholic communities in Berlin, Erfurt, Eichsfeld and Freiburg.  “Here in the land of the Reformation, Christian unity was naturally a high point of my journey. I would mention in particular my meeting with representatives of the Lutheran Church in Germany, which took place in the former Augustinian convent of Erfurt. I am profoundly grateful for our fraternal exchange and common prayer. Significant too were my meetings with Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, as well with Jews and Muslims.”

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