Berlin: Dozens of German opposition MPs have
announced plans to boycott next week`s address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament,
in protest against "violation of state neutrality" by the head
of the catholic church.
The Left party, which is leading the boycott, said that
most of its MPs will stay away when the religious leader of
over 1.1 billion catholics addresses the house on September
A spokesman for the Left party told journalists in Berlin
that its parliamentarians will not be under the party whip on
that occasion and they will be free to decide whether to
attend or not.
Besides the Left party, several MPs belonging to the
Social Democratic Party (SPD) as well as the ecological Green
parts, also announced that they will be joining the boycott.
Media reports said more than 100 of the Bundestag`s 620
elected representatives plan to stay away when the pope, a
German national, speaks at the house as the first head of the
catholic church to do so.
Some MPs said instead of attending the pope`s speech,
they will take part in a parallel protest demonstration
outside the parliament building.
Supporters of the pope`s planned speech say that he will
be on a state visit to Germany and he will be addressing the
Bundestag as more than 30 heads of state and government and
other dignitaries did during the last few decades.
Chancellor Angela Merkel`s Christian Democratic Union is
the only party to confirm that all its MPs will be present.
The Bundestag has been making arrangements to make sure
that the pope will be addressing a full house by making
available vacant seats to former members of parliament and to
its own staff, the reports said.
The Vatican has reacted angrily to the boycott plans and
said they will strengthen the image of "ugly Germans" abroad.
Curial Cardinal Walter Brandmueller warned the members of
German parliament to be aware of the effects of their protests
"Through their action, they will strengthen the image of
ugly Germans, which unfortunately still exists," Cardinal
Brandmueller told Bild newspaper.
The planned boycott of the pope’s address is not directed
against the Pontiff, "it is a disgrace for Germany," he said.
Germany`s Catholic Church deplored the boycott plans as a
"demonstration of ignorance and bad taste" by the opposition
"The fact that these people sit in parliament does not
create a positive impression on the noble representation of
the German people," Cologne`s Archbishop Joachim Meisner said.
The pope is scheduled to arrive in Berlin on September 22
on a four-day visit.