.- Pope Benedict XVI gave a rare television address in which he urged Germans to restore God to their horizon, just before he travels to the country later this week.
âI am very happy to be departing for Germany in a few days time,â said the Pope on the German religious program, âWort zum Sontagâ or âWord on Sunday.â The brief address was recorded several days ago in his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
âI think with particular joy of Berlin where I will attend many meetings and, naturally, of my address to the Bundestag and the great Mass we will celebrate at the Olympic stadium, â he said Sept. 18.
Pope Benedict leaves for his four-day visit to Germany this Thursday, Sept. 22. He is scheduled to give 18 sermons and speeches during the 21st foreign trip of his six-year pontificate.
âThis is not religious tourism; still less is it a âshow,ââ said the Pope, getting to the heart of his visitâs purpose.
âIts significance is well expressed in the motto accompanying these days: âWhere God is, there lies the future.â What this means is that we must restore God to our horizon, the God who is so often absent but of whom we have such great need.â
But some Germans are not eager for their fellow countryman to visit. Over 100 left-wing parliamentarians say they are planning to boycott the Popeâs Sept. 23 address to the Bundestag in Berlin, claiming it violates the separation of church and state.
In response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her weekly podcast to call upon all Germans to welcome the Pope. The daughter of a Lutheran pastor, she also called upon Germanyâs Christians to recognize what unites them.
âI think it is important to constantly reinforce the unity of Christians at a time when we are confronted by a growing secularism,â Merkel said Sept. 18.
As well as visiting Berlin, the Pope will also travel to Erfurt - birthplace of the Lutheran Reformation 500 years ago this year â where he will join Protestant ministers for a joint-prayer service. He will then travel onto Freiburg in the southwest for a prayer vigil with young people. In each location he will celebrate a public Mass. The Pope told television viewers that he wanted Germans to learn how to re-connect with God.
âYou may ask me: âBut, does God exist? And if He exists does He really concern Himself with us? Can we reach Him?â he said on the TV program.
âIt is, indeed, true that we cannot place God on the table, we cannot touch Him or pick Him up like an ordinary object. We must rediscover our capacity to perceive God, a capacity that exists within us.â
The Pope suggested to viewers that they can get some idea of the greatness of God from observing the cosmos because it reveals that âthe world is built in a rational way; and in the great rationality of the world we can get some idea of the Creator Spirit from which it comes; in the beauty of creation we can get some idea of the beauty, the greatness and the goodness of God.â
He added that we also âcatch a glimpse of Godâ in Holy Scriptures where âwe hear the words of eternal lifeâ and in meeting âpeople who have been touchedâ by God. This not only includes the great saints, he said, but also âthe many simple people about whom nobody speaksâ yet whose lives emanate âgoodness, sincerity and joy,â so that âwe know that God is there and that He also touches us.â
âThus, over these days,â said the Pope concluding his television address, âlet us commit ourselves to seeing God again, to becoming people who bring the light of hope into the world, a light that comes from God and that helps us to live.â
âWord on Sundayâ has been running on German television for over 50 years and each week features a priest or pastor with a sermon. Pope John Paul II appeared on the same program back in 1987.