.- Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., dismissed what he called âridiculousâ claims circulating online that the German bishops disrespected Pope Benedict during his recent visit to the country.
Fr. Lombardi said that a YouTube video showing the Pope and German president Christian Wulff has been misconstrued by bloggers and other members of the media.
Some have claimed that as the Pope moved down the line and extended his hand to introduce the members of his entourage, he was ignored by a number of German bishops.
But Fr. Lombardi told CNA that âthe interpretation given to that video that the German bishops were disrespectful to the Pope is absolutely unfounded.â
In fact, he added, the video âobviously shows the moment in which the Pope was introducing his entourageânot the German bishopsâto the German president at his residency.â
âThe Pope was gesturing with his hand to each member of the entourage, who greeted the President,â Fr. Lombardi said. âThe Pope does not expect the members of his entourage, who travel with him, to extend their hands to him on that occasion.â
He explained that Vatican officials shown in the video such as Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, Archbishop Jean-Claude Perriset, Bishop Josef Clemensâwho was a long-time personal secretary to the Pope when he was Cardinal Ratzingerâand the pontifical masters of ceremony âdonât shake the Popeâs hand and they certainly have no intention of offending him.â
He went on to note that âamong the few who did shake the Popeâs hand, although it was not necessary, were Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishopsâ Conference, and Archbishop
Rainer Woelki of Berlin, the only two German bishops seen in the video and who were included in the Popeâs entourage when he arrived in Berlin and who did not travel on the plane with the Pope.â
âI have nothing else to add,â Fr. Lombardi said. âAn interpretation of the video that accuses the German bishops of disrespecting the Pope is too senseless to warrant further comment.â
The video can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygeG5WFzkV8