Vatican: Pope will address German parliament despite boycott
Sep 16, 2011, 12:58 GMT
Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI intends to go ahead with a planned speech to the German parliament on September 22, despite a threat by dozens of legislators to boycott the event, the pontiff's spokesman said Friday.
Father Federico Lombardi was referring to a plan by about 100 leftist opposition legislators, who object to teachings of the Catholic Church, to desert the Bundestag, or parliament, during Benedict's address.
The dispute over Benedict's presence in the Bundestag - which has 620 members - is an 'internal German political affair,' Lombardi said.
The papal spokesman was speaking at a Vatican briefing on Benedict's September 22-25 visit to Germany.
'It would please us if the speech were to be received by the whole assembly ... If instead others disagree, it is not something that concerns us. The pope will speak to those present,' Lombardi said.
Asked about a possible walkout by dissenting lawmakers during the pontiff's speech, Lombardi replied: 'Certainly this would not seem to me like a polite and friendly attitude.'
Lombardi noted how it was 'uncommon' for pontiffs to address national parliaments, something which Benedict has yet to do since his election as pope in 2005.
During his two-decade long pontificate, Benedict's predecessor, the late John Paul II, only addressed parliaments twice - in Warsaw in his native Poland and the Italian parliament in Rome - Lombardi said.
Benedict is to pay a state visit to Berlin and two other German cities from next Thursday until September 25. Since becoming pope, he has visited his homeland twice in his capacity as a religious leader, but this time he will be honoured as head of state of the Vatican.
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