Benedict XVI gives unprecedented TV interview

14th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

14 August 2006, ROME - In an unprecedented television interview with a panel of four German journalists, Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to fighting in the Middle East and said he hopes to visit the Holy Land. Benedict, whose major visits during a year-long papacy have been to Germany, Poland and Spain, said he would travel to Brazil next year to attend a conference of Latin American Catholic bishops. "After that I'll visit the Holy Land, hopefully amid peace," he told the reporters in rapid German. "A

14 August 2006

ROME - In an unprecedented television interview with a panel of four German journalists, Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to fighting in the Middle East and said he hopes to visit the Holy Land.

Benedict, whose major visits during a year-long papacy have been to Germany, Poland and Spain, said he would travel to Brazil next year to attend a conference of Latin American Catholic bishops.

"After that I'll visit the Holy Land, hopefully amid peace," he told the reporters in rapid German. "As for more, we'll have to see." His much-travelled predecessor, Pope John Paul II, visited Jordan and Israel in 2000.

The pope said strong Christian communities remained in the Middle East region and he wished to mobilize them to spread a message of tolerance. He also added that he was worried that so many Christians were emigrating from the Middle East because of the conflicts there.

The 40-minute interview was aired Sunday evening in Germany, eight days after it was recorded in an hour-long encounter at the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, just outside Rome.

Although popes including Benedict have answered questions on television one-on-one in the past or spoken to groups of journalists briefly with cameras on, an interview by four TV channels at once was without precedent.

The three secular German journalists were prim and formal, whereas the priest on the panel, Father Eberhard von Gemmingen, who heads the German section of Vatican Radio, pitched the bold questions, such as why the pope had not preached in Spain against homosexual marriage.

Benedict replied that Christianity should not be seen as a collection of prohibitions but as a positive message.

The priest also asked Benedict if his predecessor, whose papacy was remarkable for its huge number of beatifications, had overdone this. Beatification is a first step to sainthood and leads to a dead person being described with the title, "Blessed."

The pope agreed that John Paul's "large quantity" of beatifications had been somewhat overwhelming and said he would delegate the process in future to Catholic bishops in their own nations.

Asked if he enjoyed being pope, Benedict said that would be going too far as the job was sometimes difficult.

Benedict's central message Sunday was an appeal to Christians in Germany and Europe not to give up in the face of hostility to faith.

He said the West was undergoing a new wave of "drastic enlightenment" that made faith difficult, but this made it "all the more important that we don't capitulate."

He said his key theme on his visit to Bavaria in September would be that "we have to rediscover God."

The journalists, from two German public television channels, ARD and ZDF, Germany's state-funded worldwide TV service, Deutsche Welle, and Vatican Radio submitted questions in advance.

Vatican Radio and Deutsche Welle were airing dubbed versions in other languages.

DPA

Subject: German news

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