How a German magazine welcomes the Pope to Germany

The German magazine Der Spiegel welcomes the Pope in this manner.

A Pope lets Germans fall away from the Faith.

Nice, huh?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JohnE says:

    No doubt they would suggest that allowing women priests, abortion, “gay marriage”, etc., would be the solution. Maybe do away with the Sunday obligation and the necessity of believing the Creed would make it more palatable as well.

  2. JoAnna says:

    Are they mad because they believe the Pope has enough power to forcibly convert people to Catholicism but won’t, or are they mad because the Pope is powerless to keep people from leaving Catholicism in favor of moral relativism? Can’t figure it out.

  3. tealady24 says:

    And just how is the Pope supposed to get people into church if they don’t want to go any longer?????
    Play John Philip Souza marches???
    I know a few people from Germany; they are totally, and happily, bereft of faith, any faith, except faith in themselves.

  4. cblanch says:

    Sounds like that implies changing the Faith would attract more people. False. Germany must be sorely in need of a Papal visit…they’re throwing such a hissy fit.

  5. DisturbedMary says:

    Benedict takes the blows.

    He asked us from the start: Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. …

  6. bourgja says:

    Here is a link to the article in English. What a marvel of objective, non-partisan journalism it is!,1518,787314,00.html

  7. benedetta says:

    Some sort of fantasy genre literature, yes? Flight from reality…

  8. irishgirl says:

    Another example of the moronic secular media, wanting to trash the Holy Father.
    I’m going to be praying like crazy for his safety as he visits his homeland.
    I’m half-German, on my mother’s side, and this magazine cover makes me mad!
    ‘Ach du lieber’!

  9. Gail F says:

    I only made it through page one of the four. “Disillusioned German Catholics” was the headline — they seem to be disillusioned that the Pope is actually Catholic. “We like to divorce and remarry! We like to be gay partners! We like to have illegitimate children! He’s German but he STILL won’t say what we want is okay!” One page of that is enough. I don’t think the Pope will care — I hope he won’t care. He knows what his job is, and he knows they wouldn’t shout so loud if they really didn’t care what he (and the Church) teaches is wrong. I will say extra prayers, though… It must be tough to have your own country do this to you. The government officials who are boycotting him should all be recalled, or whatever it is they do to government officials in Germany. They would rather have a hissy-fit than represent their country. Do they refuse to meet with representatives of Saudi Arabia, where women don’ t have any rights????

  10. HyacinthClare says:

    Here’s I am again, asking for translations: What does “unbelehrbare” mean?


    An article only a masochist will read in toto. To get the gist of it, some selected quotes:

    When Joseph Ratzinger became pope in 2005, Catholics in Germany joyfully celebrated the first German pope in almost 500 years. Since then, the euphoria has turned to disappointment and disillusionment.

    One of his hosts in Berlin, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, recently . . . . sent a letter to Germany’s bishops about the marriage ban for priests. Those who staunchly cling to celibacy, Lammert writes, “are leading the Church with open eyes into a pastoral emergency.”

    Benedict will travel the country for four days, distributing his blessing and waving to the crowds from his popemobile. But in the German society of the 21st century, the answers his Church has to offer are no longer as relevant as they once were.

    He has never grown out of his former role of head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Instead of opening up in his faith, he withdrew into his fortress and became even more obstinate.

    Instead, Ratzinger sent signals of understanding and sympathy to the conservative fringe of Catholicism. By currying favor with the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), he took the Church back in time and infuriated the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholics.

    “A man like him is not made to lead a community of more than a billion people and fill them with life. He is especially lacking in charisma,” says Leonardo Boff, the famous Latin American liberation theologian.

    Their friends with the SSPX campaigned for the Latin mass, in which priests stand with their backs to the congregation as they mumble the Lord’s Prayer. . . . “There is now absolutely no reason for Rome to keep our society out of the Church,” says Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the society. As a sign of recognition from the top, his priests, after two years of negotiations, were even permitted to celebrate a Latin mass at St. Peter’s Basilica a few weeks ago. . . . If the pope, as is being discussed in Rome, recognizes the society as a world diocese in the near future, some of the 500 SSPX priests worldwide could soon arrive in Germany to compete with local ministers with their retro masses.

  12. Nathan says:

    HyacinthClare, “Der Unbelehrbare” translates to “the un-teachable one.” And I better not say any more, to stay within the bounds of charity.

    In Christ,

  13. Martial Artist says:

    The beginning of the headline (Der Unbelehrbare) translates to:

    the uninstructable


    the unteachable.

    Reading the first few paragraphs of the English language edition of the article, one is almost compelled to conclude that the object of that term is the German political leadership. And, if the poll referenced in the article is correct, that may just extend to the vast majority of the German people. It is almost enough to influence me to change my surname.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  14. Joseph says:

    Der Spiegel is only to be ignored. It is the voice of the hairy crowd. Let us hope the Holy Father will infuse some stiffness into the bishops spine.

  15. Mark R says:

    One wonders whether Germans are still German. Germans were better Catholics, academicians, students, socialists, or capitalists than most for one reason: self-discipline.
    (I am Italian and East European by heritage.)

  16. JonathanZ says:

    I shouldn’t bother asking, since I probably know the answer, but why is it that no one protests and has such hate for the Dalai Lama, for example?

    [Can anyone explain this to me?]

  17. AvantiBev says:

    So the author of this article worries that the Pope has insulted “the prophet” Mohammed and angered Muslims but then castigates the Church for not having women in leadership roles and clergy? Throwing acid in the face of women who don’t wear the hijab, niqab and/or burqua should not be mentioned for fear of offending Muslims, I guess, and is FAR worse than no women in the priesthood.
    The author is worried that the Church hasn’t embraced sexual freedom to be gay but then chatises the Church for not owning up to the “abuse scandal”. Who is not owning up?! I would say it is the gay communities that refuse to allow discussion of the TRUE nature of the scandal: homosexual ephebophilia was the overwhelming comp0nent of the years of abuse not true pedophilia (at least in the USA).

  18. Cephas218 says:

    I love how this guy finishes with the problems of the secular world and speaks of a need for a Savior. What a blind man! Full of preconceived notions, this is a good show of prejudice (um, yeah, that’s sort of tautological).

  19. Dr. Eric says:

    I suppose, that when one gets into high positions of power or at least is a very visible person, one stops reading the news as every journalist wants to take down a famous person.

    I’m quite certain the Holy Father won’t read this article in Der Spiegel, mostly because he has better things to do.

  20. Scott W. says:

    One of his hosts in Berlin, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, recently . . . . sent a letter to Germany’s bishops about the marriage ban for priests. Those who staunchly cling to celibacy, Lammert writes, “are leading the Church with open eyes into a pastoral emergency.”

    Unlike the mainstream Protestant denominations that ordain women and married men that are brimming with seminarians and pastors….oh wait.

  21. Andrew says:

    Oh no! This from Der Spiegel (the Mirror) also referred to as “Scheißblatt”? I am shocked!

  22. Sam Schmitt says:

    “A man like him is not made to lead a community of more than a billion people and fill them with life. He is especially lacking in charisma.”

    Must be why 2,000,000 young people showed up in Madrid recently for the papal mass at World Youth Day. . . .

  23. Clinton says:

    I managed to wade through that Der Spiegel article. Maybe there is something to the
    stereotype of the humorless German, because I thought that was the most hilarious tripe
    I’ve read in a while, made all the more amusing because the Spiegel staff who wrote it
    seem to have been in dead earnest.

    The article lovingly describes the free-fall the Church in Germany has been in for the past few
    decades under the watch of an overwhelmingly liberal episcopacy. Rather than make a con-
    nection between the German Church’s decline and years of failed policies, the writers bemoan
    the sunset of the liberals and the fact that all of the growth the church is experiencing is among
    more conservative Catholics.

    My absolute favorite bit was the description of a reception held
    at the Limburg seminary. Karl Cardinal Lehmann, Archbishop of Mainz and described as the
    as “the last great liberal in the Church” is present. Evidently he is older, ill, and seems to
    be ignored by most of the attendees at the reception. His lot is contrasted with that of the
    Bishop of Limburg– younger, energetic, surrounded by a crowd and working the room. The
    authors breathlessly inform us “ardent supporters of the Pope, like (the Bishop of Limburg)
    and his compatriots in Berlin, Regensberg, Essen, Fulda, Eighstatt and Speyer are now setting
    the agenda in German Catholicism…”.

    Somehow, in the fantasyland occupied by Der Spiegel, that is a Very Bad Thing.

  24. MarkJ says:

    Our Holy Father will remain steadfast in proclaiming the True Faith, despite what the people are clamoring for. A passage from II Timothy comes to mind:
    I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
    For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

  25. jarhead462 says:

    Mark J-
    Semper Fi!

  26. DisturbedMary says:

    Jonathan Z and Fr. Z

    Dalai Llama is buddhist. Buddhists don’t believe in God. What’s to hate.

  27. Athelstan says:

    “But in the German society of the 21st century, the answers his Church has to offer are no longer as relevant as they once were.”

    Oh, it’s relevant, all right. These Germans just don’t want to hear it.

    But judging by the similar evisceration of all the liberal Protestant denominations in Germany that these people apparently want the Catholic Church to emulate (only 1 in 25 nominal members of the Evangelical Church even bother to attend Sunday worship), it’s not at all clear that any religious message has much resonance for Germans of 2011. Unless, of course, they’re Turkish Germans, and the religious message is quite different.

    I’m afraid the rot set in long before April of 2005. But I suppose that doesn’t quite fit Der Spiegel’s narrative. Or its diagnosis.

  28. “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and in his own house, and among his own kindred”

    Let us remember to pray daily for our Holy Father!

  29. “The article lovingly describes the free-fall the Church in Germany has been in for the past few decades under the watch of an overwhelmingly liberal episcopacy. Rather than make a connection between the German Church’s decline and years of failed policies, the writers bemoan the sunset of the liberals and the fact that all of the growth the church is experiencing is among more conservative Catholics.”

    Indeed, I read it as a rather positive article, quite satisfying in its own way, whether or not intended by the author.

  30. MikeM says:

    A media that pushes Germans to fall away from the Faith.

  31. Rich says:

    Of course, if the pope had allowed all of the changes (women priests, married priests, softening the Church’s moral teaching) they think would keep people from falling away, they would accuse him for not doing his job as pope then too. Darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

  32. scotus says:

    Like Henry Edwards, I was in many ways encouraged by the article. The more that the authors ranted about the success of Pope Benedict and the traditionalists the more I enjoyed it. And the more moanings they reported from the other crowd the more I enjoyed it. And as for Benedict being out of touch with the modern world the more out of touch he is the better.

  33. scotus says:

    I live in the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) parish with the largest number of members. I have been told that at the present rate of decline in their membership there will be no one left by 2050. The Church of Scotland allows women ministers and allows all of its ministers to be married. It is currently discussing whether or not to allow its homosexual ministers to be able to live openly with their ‘partners’. One such minister already does. This is the Utopia that Der Spiegel wants the Catholic Church to adopt.

  34. Marianna says:

    Well, I managed to read a couple of pages of that. It wasn’t because I was shocked or surprised at the contents that I didn’t reach the end; it’s just that I was bored senseless.

    There’s certainly a great tradition of leeeeeeengthy, dull writing in Germany. It appears to be flourishing…

  35. Marianna says:

    By the way, I presume that “der Unbelehrbare” (“the unteachable”, i.e. a person who is fixed in their views) is intended as a pun on “der Unfehlbare” (“the infallible”).

  36. BaedaBenedictus says:


    Here is the answer to your question on the Pope vs. the Dalai Lama. :-)

  37. Angelika says:

    As Georg Ratzinger would say: “Typisch Spiegel wieder. Sie haben Ihren schlechten Ruf nicht umsonst.”

  38. Random Friar says:

    Dear Germany:

    When there is no longer a Germany, there will still be a Pope waiting for you.

    Love, your Mother the Church.

  39. kelleyb says:

    Dalai Llama is a self proclaimed Marxist, and THAT my friends, is the difference.

  40. Imrahil says:

    Dear @jarhead462,

    as this is about Germans, the correct battlecry is:

    Semper talis.


  41. Andreas says:

    Friends; The term ‘Unbelehrbar’ also refers to one being ‘obstinate’…not taking advice. Of course, when one considers the sources of such advice (as offered from the publication in question along with the many various sons and daughters of Fishwrap), obstinacy can be considered a virtue rather than a vice. What troubles me is not so much that such publications exist, but that there are masses of unbelievably gullible readers who will take what has been put into print as ‘authoratative gospel’ without researching such issues further from truly unabhaengig (independent…unbiased) sources of information and reportage.

  42. Imrahil says:

    Somebody mentioned humour. It is quite significant that whenever the Church is started to be insulted, every sense of the otherwise quite prevalent and lovely (this, of course, is a patriotic statement) German humour totally evaporates. A similiar thing might be seen with leftist activism.

    Even in a deckle speech of last Carnival, humourous riddiculisation suddenly vanished and a direct inflammatory attack emerged once the speaker wanted to attack the Church.

    What’s the code sign of a Catholic? Telling a joke about a Catholic topic which is humourous only. (Comes the secretary to the Pope and says: “Happy name’s day!” – “What, it isn’t Benedict today, nor Joseph either?” – “No, but it’s the sixteenth.” Etc.)

  43. scotus says:

    How should the Pope react to all this advice he is getting from Dr Spiegel, that noted authority on how to draw more people into the Church? Well, in Germany, where the present ‘policies’ are not supposed to be working, he should accept women priests, actively homosexual people and divorced and remarried people. Perhaps it might help if he dropped all that ‘nonsense’ about God as that’s probably what keeps most people out of Church. But what about Africa and China, where the Catholic population is growing massively? Clearly, there, the present ‘policies’ are working fine. So there he needs to keep to the present ‘policies’. In other words what Der Spiegel is basically saying is that the Pope needs to disband the Catholic Church and replace it with national Churches. This, of course, would make it like the Anglican Communion, a body which no doubt Der Spiegel would consider to be highly successful.

  44. benedetta says:

    Their claim has no basis in reality.

    Statistics and sociological data show that throughout decades of the pastoral practices of radical secularism, great numbers have fallen away and no longer practice the faith. By the time of this most recent “Habemus Papam”, those numbers were long gone, having listened to the leaders in the Church who told them their faith was just a bunch of useless rules and that they need not come to Mass or belong to a parish in order to be spiritual. The reality is that dissident groups celebrate their ridicule of the Pope and what the much demonized “orthodox Catholics” (who are really just plain old Catholics) and have had free reign in institutions, parishes, communities, and media with hardly any to no interference. Certainly if they were serious about a dialogue and about their responsibilities to the Church and loved the Church then their dissent would look more like what Card Dulles described (in Fr Z’s earlier post) and we would have some discussions about mutual hopes for coming back into communion. Instead what is embraced is anarchic dissent, dissent for dissent’s sake, not for the sake of the communion and reconciliation of the faithful. That suddenly with the advent of a new papacy huge numbers are exiting after what has already happened is to laugh.

  45. Centristian says:

    After reading all the comments here I decided to actually read the entire Der Spiegel article, myself. Having done so, I’m scratching my head, to be honest, unsure of what all the outrage and indignation are about.

    The article reviews the sorry state of the Church in Germany (which, of course, is the same sorry state of the Church everywhere else) and points out that there is a divide between left-leaning Catholics and Catholics who lean to the right (obviously). Pope Benedict XVI is not best equipped to create a more liberal environment within the Church (no kidding; we would all agree), seeming to favor traditionalists and a more traditional Church, instead (yes, it would appear that way). Liberals in the Church are dismayed, therefore. Conservatives are bolstered.

    That’s the essence of the article that I read.

  46. irishgirl says:

    AvantiBev-another bulls-eye! You go, girl!

  47. Schiavona says:

    And guess who they call next…

    Theologian Hans Küng on Pope Benedict: ‘A Putinization of the Catholic Church’,1518,787325,00.html

  48. j says:

    Is this really worse than THIS,1518,730520,00.html
    Hard to take seriously

  49. bourgja says:

    @Centristian: what bothers most here is the obvious bias of the author towards the liberal viewpoint, rather than a simple description of the current state of affairs.

  50. Supertradmum says:

    Read the entire article and I simply do not believe all the claims. Firstly, German Catholics have been a minority for a long time. Therefore, the small, faithful minority would not be heard anyway. The author is merely taking cheap shots at the Pope, who is being considered seriously by the government, as a Head of State, with a right to be heard, as he was so graciously in England.

    That the Germans went secular and worse between the two Great Wars has been documented and Nazism was a pagan movement. Christianity has suffered for years in that country. As to liberal Catholics, sadly, again, many, if not most, German Catholics have fallen into that category. I have met conservative, or real Catholics from Germany and they express the sadness of the state of the Church.

    The Mirror is simply mirroring the state of affairs among the Germans.

  51. kiloran says:

    What can we expect of a magazine whose interviewer begins his first question to Hans Küng “you and Benedict are traveling along two different paths. You want to reform the Church to keep it alive. The pope is trying to seal off the Church from the outside world and increasingly restrict it to a conservative core, which may possibly survive”
    “Der Spiegel”? What does this mirror reflects?

  52. Brad says:

    “…the Latin mass, in which priests stand with their backs to the congregation as they mumble the Lord’s Prayer…”


    But to answer Father’s question about the dalai lama:

    “they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires”

    That’s all. The dalai lama, whatever his actual name is, is just a soul. He will meet the real deal, the Lamb, one day, as will all other gurus. When His mercy flows, they will understand.

  53. Ulrich says:

    @Fr Z
    When the Dalai Lama visits Germany, there are neither significant protests, nor are there such campaigns against him as they occur against the Pope. ATM the media are very disappointed that the Pope did not change anything they want him to change (e.g. full eucharistic communion with the lutherans and reformed protestants (the protestants are disappointed, too)) and letting people who are divorced and remarried go to communion etc.

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