When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Germany

Pope Benedict XVI’s Troubles At Home

The Pope was met with protests as he began a four-day trip in his native Germany. But his challenges run even deeper in a country that was protective of their native son in the early days of his papacy, but now sees him as the ultimate symbol of rigid tra

Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by Merkel and Wulff in Berlin on Thursday.
Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by Merkel and Wulff in Berlin on Thursday.
Matthias Drobinski

BERLIN - Welcome home, Holy Father. Welcome back to your native Germany, where up to 300,000 people in Berlin, Erfurt, Etzelsbach and Freiburg will pray and sing with you. But welcome also to a country where dozens of Bundestag deputies announced a boycott of your speech before the German parliament -- the first major stop on the visit Thursday -- and more than 10,000 are expected to demonstrate over the next four days against the kind of Catholicism you represent, which they consider the embodiment of all that is rigid and doctrinaire about religion.

On the first day of his homecoming, Benedict XVI met Germany's Catholic-born president, who, as a divorced and remarried man, cannot under Church rules partake in communion. His itinerary also includes a meeting with a Protestant Chancellor, married for a second time, and a Catholic mayor who is openly gay. Klaus Wowereit, Berlin's gay mayor, has expressed a certain sympathy with opponents of the Pope, and Christian Wulff, Germany's president, says he's hoping the Pope will deliver a "liberating message" for the millions of divorced Catholics like himself who have remarried.

So welcome, Pope Benedict, to Germany -- a difficult homeland.

The person of Joseph Ratzinger

The Pope is making a lot of effort on this trip to the country of his birth, where the Catholic Church has lost so much respect and credibility. The 84-year-old will be making 17 speeches before he returns to Rome on Sunday. But Germany will remain a country that is tough on the Church, because the mutual disconnect is too deeply entrenched -- and this disconnect has also attached itself disproportionately to the person of Joseph Ratzinger

From Rome's point of view, the Catholic Church in Germany has something unreliable, truculent even, about it. Haven't Catholics there been infected more strongly than elsewhere with the spirit of the Reformation? Was there not, in the 19th century, a strong national church movement reacting against Rome's anti-modernism and seeking to reconcile belief with enlightenment? Aren't those Catholic associations in Germany basically children of the German Revolutions of 1848? And is the tight state-church bond that exists in Germany not an attempt to monopolize religion?

After trips to the Vatican, German bishops talk about how difficult it is to explain that the Church in Germany continues to perceive itself as bound to the Pope, that independent theology at state universities is not synonymous with a loss of faith, or that critical youth organizations can also be a blessing for the Church. But talk to people in the Vatican, and they find the Germans irritating: if an Italian doesn't agree with the teachings of the Church he would handle it differently. The Germans on the other hand always have to instigate a debate about basic principles.

Joseph Ratzinger is both a child and a critic of German Catholicism. His was a Catholic childhood of unquestioning faith, but later as a high-profile university professor he was shaken by the student revolts that took place in 1968. He criticized the Church, pointing out that some of its theologians often autocratically strayed from church teaching, or that the Church was rich materially, but poor in faith. The future of the Church, he believed, did not lie in adjusting to the modern day, but in opposing relativism -- both in regard to the truth of faith, and the social order as God willed it.

So in Germany, passionate debate about whether the Catholic Church should approach or distance itself from the zeitgeist became inexorably linked to the figure of Joseph Ratzinger, who had risen to become the Vatican Cardinal in charge of doctrinal matters. It was he who with atypical sharpness explained that the churches of the Reformation were not really churches in "the real sense." It was due to his stubbornness that Germany's Catholic Church had to withdraw from the state's pregnancy counseling system. For a brief period of jubilation after his election as Pope in 2005 these differences and wounds were swept under the carpet, even after Benedict, in his 2006 lecture at the University of Regensburg, not only managed to insult Muslims but to portray the period of history from the Church Fathers through the Reformation to Immanuel Kant as one of decline.

Now the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. After the anger at Benedict XVI's reinstatement of bishops (including a Holocaust denier) belonging to the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X in 2009, and after so many cases of sexual violence have emerged – the atmosphere has gone from uncritical in 2006 to the sometimes overly critical in 2011. Most non-Catholics in Germany view this visit with more or less benign disinterest. Catholics are hoping for some words of encouragement. "Just so he doesn't goof up," says one of the people helping to get the stadium ready. The hope is that he doesn't say yet another thing that is misunderstood, that discredits the whole trip and his good intentions. Just so he doesn't dig himself an even deeper hole in his own homeland.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Youtube

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ