Supporters of pope’s German visit blast Bundestag boycott plan
Supporters of Pope Benedict’s tour of Germany this week criticised on Wednesday politicians who expressed doubts over his conservative views, his planned speech to parliament and the cost of his visit. With one day to go before his arrival, Berlin police began closing streets and imposing high-level security in parts of the capital where the German-born pontiff will appear at the beginning of his four-day tour.
As a foretaste of protests by gay and lesbian groups that may rally 20,000 people in Berlin, paint bombs were hurled at the Vatican embassy where he will stay in the gritty Neukoelln district and at a nearby Roman Catholic church.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a Protestant, criticised a group of 100 parliamentarians planning to boycott the pope’s address to the Bundestag (lower house) on Thursday for “arrogance, narrow-mindedness and provincialism”. He told the Tagesspiegel daily the pope’s address would be an opportunity for politicians to reflect on ethical issues.
Wolfgang Thierse, a deputy speaker, said some left-wingers supporting the boycott had put their case aggressively. “No deputy will be forced to attend,” he said. “No deputy who listens has to agree with the pope’s views.” Thierse, a Catholic, said he too disagreed with Benedict on some issues. “But what does that have to do with parliament?” he asked on German Radio. “Can one speak in parliament only after passing an ideological test?”