Vatican unfazed by German boycott threats

By David Kerr

Vatican City, Sep 16, 2011 / 11:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI will continue with plans to address the German parliament next week,  despite the threat of a boycott by dozens of legislators.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi

“It would please us if the speech were to be received by the whole assembly,” said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., adding that “if instead others disagree, it is not something that concerns us. The Pope will speak to those present.”

Fr. Lombardi’s  Sept. 16 comments came during a briefing ahead of Pope Benedict’s visit to Germany, Sept. 22-25.

In recent weeks the German media has reported that dozens of left-wing parliament members are planning to boycott or walkout of the Pope’s address to Berlin’s parliament—called the Bundestag—over claims the papal address will violate a separation of church and state.

Fr. Lombardi said such threats are an “internal German political affair” and that “if someone has objections it doesn’t depend on us or the Pope.” He also observed that since the Pope was invited to address the parliament, the threat of a boycott does  “not seem to me like a polite and friendly attitude.”

Papal addresses to parliaments are uncommon. Pope Benedict has never addressed a parliamentary gathering since being elected pontiff in 2005. Prior to that, Pope John Paul II only addressed two parliaments – those of Italy and Poland – during his 27-year reign.

Pope Benedict’s four-day visit to Germany will consist of stops in Berlin, Erfurt and Freiburg. In each city he will preside over large public Masses. The Pope is also holding meeting with leaders of the Jewish, Muslim and Orthodox Christian faiths.

Next week will be the first state visit by the Pope to his homeland. He has visited two times since being elected Pope in 2005, but both occasions were in a pastoral capacity.  The motto of the visit is “wherever God is, there is the future.”