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.

Ratzinger met with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday during his visit to his native Germany, and expressed deep regret for their ordeal. Photo AFP

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, a  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 secu­larism, and claimed that his religion is the antidote. He has even used the term ‘ag­gressive 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:

The  Vatican and  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 secular­ism his message is less about making the world a more har­monious place but more a re­cruitment 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 ap­palling anti-women, anti-intellectual, narrow minded view of the world, is in no fit state to advise on the social, econ­omic 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 un­trustworthy 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 de­scribe 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 en­visages 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 re­search 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 dog­matic religion is devoid of com­passion, reason and sense and should have no place in wider society, unless you want to turn the clock back several hundred years.

22 responses to “Germans lukewarm over Pope’s visit”

  1. The Woggler says:

    I hope the Germans have learned from Britain’s mistake and have demanded his hollowness’ share of the cost of the visit up front.

  2. barriejohn says:

    All our expectations have been surpassed.

    Translation: “He wasn’t lynched”!

  3. Daz says:

    I see Blair’s given him a few lessons on spin, then…

  4. AngieRS says:

    More like the BBC. According to one report it was a rip roaring success.

  5. Newspaniard says:

    Paul Arnold: I’m with you, mate.

  6. Angela_K says:

    Sorry if this has been linked before but this video shows that Ratzi has upset one or two Germans.

  7. Tim Danaher says:

    When I lived there, I was constantly surprised at just how much reverence Germans still seem to pay to organised religion, but this extract from the Tageszeitung, quoted in today’s Independent, gives me some hope:

    “The Pope draws huge crowds. But, as his ambitionless speech before the Bundestag once again showed, he does so because he enshrouds them in a world in which authorities Issue harmless warnings. Like an Advent wreath, it is outdated kitsch.”

  8. tony e says:

    @The Woggler,

    My first thought exactly.

    The recent visit to the UK by the pope, head of, arguably, the wealthiest independent institute in the world, was disgusting. The fact that we, the taxpayers, were to partially fund this parasite’s visit, in order to spread his lies, was, for want of a better phrase, taking the piss.

  9. Pete H says:

    @ Daz,

    Not on-topic, but I very much enjoyed your little joust with the person who was debunking evolution the other day.

    Love that he took the original piece down because of the response it’s had.

    The mind boggles at what the old cognitive dissonace is coming up with to help him rationalise why he removed it.

  10. Har Davids says:

    It’s déja vu time; the ‘commoners’ don’t really care and the hobnobs see these visits as some kind of photo-op, albeit a very expensive one. It would be so much cheaper if they just all went to Rome, requested an audience and have their pictures taken over there.

    As to the state of today’s society: Christianity held sway over Europe for centuries, and only after religion was given the back-seat it deserves, we started moving forward. Who knows what will happen if we all embrace seculariy, of even atheism?

  11. Broga says:

    @Barry Duke: I welcome you initiative in asking Paul Arnold to contribute to The Freethinker. Like yourself I liked his style and I look forward to reading more from him.

  12. Broga says:

    Robert Zollitsch, the German Archbishop who said the Pope’s visit exceeded all expectations, lives in Widderworld. This is a strange place where, for example, Widders claims that not to use BC/AD destroys “our christian heritage.”

    In Widderworld facts are replaced by Widdertruths. What happens is that facts are obsured by a miasma of religious fantasy. As the facts are ignored the Widderpeople develope a sense of what they want to believe. Regardless of what is before them they have been brainwashed into rejecting objective opinions, eschewing critical thought and accepting what fits with their superstitions. An example, from many, is their selective reading of their bible. So, a failed papal visit exceeds all expectations.

    There is a penalty for this behaviour. To live in Widderworld they must allow their humanity to be compromised, opt for emotional immaturity and divorce themselves from most of the satisfactions of normal life. The penalty is savage. And they know that they are having to pay.

  13. Stonyground says:

    If blaming all of societies ills on secularism is an unforgivable clanger, what do we call his attempt to blame atheists for the Holocaust?

  14. Daz says:

    Stonyground: Guilt avoidance?

    Pete H: The pleasure’s all mine, sir. Thank you.

  15. AgentCormac says:


    Widderworld and Widdertruth – genius!

    To live in Wdderwolrd I take it one must first perfect the art of talking out of one’s arse?

    And to be fluent in Widdertruth I also take it one must be able to argue with utmost conviction that fantasies are actually truth?

    You need to find a way of somehow getting this out into the mainstream, mate.

  16. Daz says:

    Widderworld; national language, Widderbabble.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Get the irony here!

    PS Maybe Anne Widdecombe’s little quotes could be renamed Widdergobbets of truth?

  18. Daz says:

    From Barriejohn’s link:

    The cardinal said the political class was preoccupied with self-preservation


  19. barriejohn says:

    Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco told fellow bishops it was “mortifying” to witness “sad and hollow” behaviour that damaged the country’s image abroad.

    I thought he was referring to Ratzinger at first.

  20. AgentCormac says:

    An example of Widderirony?

    “Politicians had a responsibility to live a moral life and set a good example because their behaviour had “undeniable effects on culture and education” and influenced the young and impressionable, the cardinal added.”

    Oh, that’ll be a bit like priests then. And what a good job they’ve done!

  21. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac/Daz/barriejohn: Thanks for your response. It had not occured to me when I wrote the post but the existence of Widderworld has potential for development e.g. Widdergobbets (barriejohn),Widderbabble (Daz).

    The best response from Widders and her kind is often ridicule. They are so often beyond rational discussion.

  22. CriticalEyeYayeye says:

    Blaming the Holocaust on atheism is ridiculous…… It is a well known fact that Hitler was a strong Catholic.