Freiburg: Facing discontent within
his German flock, Pope Benedict XVI met with victims of
clerical sex abuse as he called for Roman Catholics in the
former communist East to rediscover their faith.
The pontiff celebrated Mass with some 30,000 people early
today, unhindered by an incident on the edge of the security
zone in which a man fired an air gun at a security guard about
an hour before the service, Vatican and local officials said.
Benedict`s spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said
there was "no worry" in the papal entourage over the incident,
and the pontiff was not informed about it before the Mass.
"It didn`t seem particularly urgent," he told reporters on
the pope`s plane after the Mass. Police said the alleged
shooter had been arrested and that there were no injuries.
Police later identified the suspect as a 30-year-old Erfurt
man who lived in Berlin.
They said an air rifle and air pistol were found in his
top-floor apartment, and that he was being held on suspicion
of attempting to cause serious bodily harm.
After the Mass, the Pope flew to Freiburg, a city with a
large Catholic population in southern Germany.
In his sermon, the pope acknowledged that the collapse of
communism in the former East Germany more than 20 years ago
has allowed the church to function freely, but questioned
whether that change has brought any increase in faith.
"Are not the deep roots of faith and Christian life to be
sought in something very different from social freedom?" the
pope said. "It was actually amid the hardships of pressure
from without that many committed Catholics remained faithful
to Christ and to the church."