German president visits Vatican on double anniversary
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.- The president of Germany paid a visit to the Vatican marking the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the German Republic and the twentieth anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. His visit included a private audience with the Pope as well as presenting a concert in the Sistine Chapel.

Horst Kohler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, spoke with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday morning, touching on the current economic crisis, its consequences, and the current international situation.

The meeting was preceded by a concert marking Germany's dual anniversaries in the Sistine Chapel. The performance, which was offered by the German president, featured the Augsburger Domsingknaben (Augsburg Cathedral Boys Choir) and the Residenz-Kammerorchester Munchen (Resident Munich Chamber Orchestra). The two groups were conducted by Reinhard Kammler and played Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 (Cantatas I-III).

At the end of the concert, the Holy Father remarked on the fall of the Berlin Wall. Calling it a “frontier of death which for many years divided our homeland, forcibly separating people, families, neighbors and friends,” he said that “many at the time saw the events of November 9, 1989 as an unexpected dawn of freedom after a long and harsh night of violence and oppression due to a totalitarian system which, in the end, led to nihilism, to an emptying of souls.”

The Pope also analyzed the ideology of the former East German government, saying that “under the communist dictatorship no action was held to be evil and always immoral in itself. What served the aims of the party was good, however inhuman it could be.”

Benedict XVI then noted that the current Federal Republic of Germany is proof that “the social order of the West is better and more humane.” This is due to the fact that the country's Basic Law “exhorts men and women, responsible before God the Creator, to give priority to human dignity,” he said. The Holy Father's reflection on German law led him to exhort the country's citizens to uphold it by respecting “marriage and the family as the foundation of all societies” and by showing “esteem and profound respect for what is sacred to others.”

“The history of Europe in the twentieth century shows how responsibility before God is of vital importance for moral political activity,” insisted the Pope. “God brings mankind together in true communion and shows individuals that, in their communion with others, a greater One is present, One Who is the original cause of our lives and of our joint existence. This is particularly evident in the mystery of the Nativity when this God comes close to us with His love and, as a Child, requests our love.”

Pope Benedict concluded by saying, “May the citizens of Germany - faithful to the duty established in the Basic Law concerning spiritual and political renewal in the wake of National Socialism and the Second World War - continue to collaborate for the construction of a freer and more social society.”

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