Apostolic nuncio emphasizes Germany’s need for faith

Rome, Italy, Sep 22, 2011 / 01:58 pm (CNA).- Germany’s apostolic nuncio recently stressed the need for German Catholics to hear Benedict XVI’s teachings during his visit to the country.

Archbishop Jean Claude Perisset explained to Vatican Radio that Catholics in Germany have a lot of “questions, because in today’s free society, each person expresses his own viewpoint.”

“But we need to become more aware of the intrinsic treasure in the magisterium of the Church, which throughout the centuries has been enriched and has given life to our community.  And today the Pope, together with the bishops, is trying to make it even more vibrant for society today.”

The Pope is visiting Germany Sept. 22 – 25.

“To be ready to listen, that to me is very important. Then we need to respond in such a way that our language can be understood by the people.  And I think Pope Benedict is a master at this,” he continued.

Regarding the state of Germany society today, Archbishop Perisset said the Pope will find “a Germany that is similar to other Western societies in which the faith is not lived as much, not even within the Catholic Church herself.”

“Practicing Catholics, those who at least attend Sunday Mass, are barely above 15 percent, and yet people claim to be members of a church: one third Catholic, one third evangelical, and one third who claim no religious affiliation. But I see that those who are not in agreement with the Church are nonetheless interested in her message,” the nuncio continued.

Regarding the ecumenical meaning of the trip, the nuncio said, “(t)o me, the mere fact that the Pope is meeting with evangelical brethren at the place where Luther was a monk (in Erfurt)—and where he abandoned the teachings of the Church to promote his own personal vision—is quite relevant.”

“The Pope wishes to give this sign: not only of dialogue with the representatives of the Evangelical Church and of other groups attached to the reform, but also a moment, an act of ecumenical prayer.

This corresponds to what the Scripture says: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst,’” Archbishop Perisset said.

Commenting on the protests announced by some lawmakers against the Pope’s speech in the German Parliament, the nuncio said, “This attitude shows that they don’t know what a state visit means and what the Pope represents.”

He expressed hope that the protests would take place within the bounds of tolerance.