German flags fly at half-mast for papal funeral

8th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 April 2005, BERLIN - Flags on German federal government buildings were lowered to half-mast on Friday to mark the funeral in Rome of Pope John Paul II, and most of the country's top leaders were at the Vatican.

8 April 2005

BERLIN - Flags on German federal government buildings were lowered to half-mast on Friday to mark the funeral in Rome of Pope John Paul II, and most of the country's top leaders were at the Vatican.

Flags had been lowered for a day directly after John Paul's death on Saturday evening. Just under half of Germans are registered Catholics, with most of the rest Protestant or of no religion.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder flew on Thursday evening from his hometown Hanover to Rome in a government Challenger executive jet, accompanied by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

German President Horst Koehler flew to Rome on Thursday afternoon from Berlin in a government Airbus with opposition leaders Angela Merkel and Edmund Stoiber and the speaker of parliament, Wolfgang Thierse. Stoiber and Thierse are both Catholics.

Earlier in the week it had been planned for all six to fly to Rome in the same plane, but Koehler said he needed to fly earlier so he could pay his respects to the pope at the lying in state.

Some Berlin sources claimed that Schroeder and his rivals were reluctant to share a plane when they had nothing to say to one another. They are expected to fly together back to Berlin.

DPA

Subject: German news

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