Germans lukewarm over Pope’s visit
DESPITE the fact that German reaction to Ratzinger’s four-day state visit was one of overall apathy, Germany’s top archbishop, Robert Zollitsch, said the Church was extremely pleased with the visit. He told reporters:
All our expectations have been surpassed.
But according to this report, the posturing old bigot’s first state visit to his native Germany:
Fell far short of the expectations of sex abuse victims and those clamouring for a more open and tolerant Church.
Ratzinger’s’s four-day marathon, which wrapped up Sunday, taking in Berlin, the former communist East German city of Erfurt and staunchly Catholic Freiburg, aimed to reinvigorate a Church in crisis in the face of the abuse scandals and growing secularisation.
The report said that those expecting the Pope to take concrete steps toward healing religious rifts or modernising the Church in the interest of winning back alienated Roman Catholics were sorely disappointed, and it quoted Catholic theology professor Werner Tzscheetzsch, a longtime Church critic, as saying:
Nothing will change under Benedict XVI – this year’s trip was a nice show, nothing more.
Despite blanket media coverage, the visit met with a large measure of apathy in this increasingly secular society with liberal views on sexuality.
Germans are leaving both the Catholic and Lutheran Churches in droves. Richard David Precht, a best-selling German author on philosophical issues, said the lukewarm reception in Germany, which had taken great pride in his 2005 election, was symptomatic of a Western trend.
The fate of the Catholic Church in the next few years and decades is not looking very positive or euphoric and I don’t think the Pope’s visit is likely to stop the decline of Catholicism in Germany. I think we will continue to see falling numbers of Catholics unless we experience a major economic downturn.
On a personal note, I have reason to be thankful to Ratzinger, as he indirectly brought me into contact with a brilliant atheist commentator.
After the Pope’s visit to Spain earlier this year I was amazed and gratified to read a blistering attack on him by ex-Catholic Paul Arnold, aÂ former BBC producer who penned a piece for the Costa Blanca News under the heading Sometimes the Pope should put a Sock in It.
I was so impressed by Arnold’s style that I contacted him immediately and asked whether he would consider writing for the Freethinker magazine, and he enthusiastically agreed.
Unfortunately, the CBN did not post Arnold’s piece on the internet, but I have created a link so that you can read it in full.
In his article Arnold lambasted the Pope for making:
The unforgivable clanger of laying the blame (for society’s ills) squarely at the door of secuÂlarism, and claimed that his religion is the antidote. He has even used the term â€˜agÂgressive secularism’ in the past. It’s on these points that me and the pope are going to have a falling out.
He pointed out that:
TheÂ Vatican andÂ its minions are unhappy and angry that Church and state are moving further apart. Not only here in Spain, but in other countries in the union. The pope is losing control over the lives of millions of people and control is what the body politic of the Roman Catholic Church once had and is desperate to cling onto.
When he decries secularÂism his message is less about making the world a more harÂmonious place but more a reÂcruitment drive and rallying call to get people to come over to his side of the fence. It is a lust for power and control. He sees Spain as an instrumental part of his plan to rebuild his Church in Europe and to have a greater influence in how we should all lead our lives.
The Vatican, with its apÂpalling anti-women, anti-intellectual, narrow minded view of the world, is in no fit state to advise on the social, econÂomic and cultural life of a nation. It never was and never will be, and anything that diminishes the influence and the power of this most unÂtrustworthy and discredited institution is welcome. It should simply concentrate and focus its energy on what it does best, concerning itself with spiritual and theological matters.
And he added:
And in any case, what kind of society would we be living in if the church’s tentacles stretched further and deeper into our lives? After all, this was an institution that fully supported Franco’s coup in 1936, even going so far as to deÂscribe it as a “crusade” against “antichrists”. And it continued to support his dictatorship – one of the darkest chapters in this country’s history – for more than thirty years.
Or perhaps his holiness enÂvisages generating a society where, as in America, the Christian lobby is a major force in politics. It is made up of the sorts of people who do not believe in a welfare state, oppose government funding of scientific research because they see it as contradicting the Bible (this is the kind of reÂsearch that may lead to cures for cancers and other horrible diseases), and want laws and policies based on what is in the so-called good book. But dogÂmatic religion is devoid of comÂpassion, reason and sense and should have no place in wider society, unless you want to turn the clock back several hundred years.