Pope Benedict XVI Arrives on Four-Day Visit to Native GermanyWorld | September 22, 2011, Thursday // 10:36| views
Pope Benedict XVI has embarked on a our-day official visit to his homeland Germany starting September 22. Photo by darik news
Pope Benedict XVI embarks Thursday on a four-day official visit to his native Germany, where he will also face his staunchest critics.
The four-day apostolic voyage begins in Berlin, followed by the cities of Erfurt, in the former East Germany, and Freiburg im Breisgau, near the Swiss-German border.
When Joseph Ratzinger was elected to be pope in 2005, Catholics in Germany euphorically celebrated the first German pope in almost 500 years.
Since then, the joy has turned to disillusionment, according to Spiegel magazine.
During his visit, Pope Benedict XVI is to meet German President Christian Wulff at of Bellevue Palace, the president's official residence in Berlin.
Wulff is a practicing Catholic, divorced and remarried, which excludes him from receiving Communion under the current rules of the Church.
Later in the day, the pope will meet Berlin's openly gay Mayor Klaus Wowerweit, who is also a Catholic and has been living with his partner for years.
According to the publication in Spiegel , the pope should not have any problems during his meetings with Angela Merkel (remarried) and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (gay), who are both Protestants.
However, the speech Pope Benedict XVI is to give in the Bundestag is expected to be met with strong opposition on the part lawmakers who have argued that allowing the pope to address parliament violates Germany's separation of church and state, according to UK daily Guardian.
"A head of state who disregards labour rights, women's rights and the right to sexual self-determination should not be allowed to address the Bundestag," Ulla Burchardt, an SPD politician from Dortmund, told Der Spiegel.
Criticism of the pope is often highest among Catholics, with a record 181 000 leaving the Catholic Church last year in protest against its sexual abuse scandals and increasingly conservative line.
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