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German bishops ask for Pope’s forgiveness for the errors of his homeland

By on Thursday, 21 February 2013

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (Photo: CNS)

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (Photo: CNS)

The president of the German bishops’ conference has asked Pope Benedict XVI’s forgiveness for “errors committed against him” in his homeland, adding that most Germans respect him as a “spiritual and intellectual authority”.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau said: “After eight years, we feel a deep, overriding respect and gratitude, but also a sadness – farewells always hurt, especially when they concern people familiar and revered. The Pope has asked forgiveness for his own shortcomings. I would also ask the Holy Father, in return, to pardon errors committed against him within the Church in Germany,” the archbishop said in his opening address to the German bishops’ spring plenary.

His remarks were an apparent reference to media criticisms of the Pope, especially during his September 2011 visit to Berlin. Archbishop Zollitsch said all Germans had “in some sense shared the honour” bestowed on the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at his 2005 election as pope.

He added that Pope Benedict had “not succeeded in everything” and had faced criticism for failing “to meet the excited, interrelated expectations of so many worldwide”.

But “truth, clarity and compassion” had formed “three pillars” of the Pope’s pontificate, Archbishop Zollitsch said, and most Germans would appreciate his devotion to God.

“The fundamental dedication which shaped our Holy Father’s life is so transparent that people revere him as a spiritual and intellectual authority,” he said.

Archbishop Zollitsch said “many millions of Germans” had felt “spiritually nourished and supported in faith” by the Bavarian-born Pope, particularly during his homecoming visits in 2005, 2006 and 2011.

He added that some Catholics had been disappointed after “expecting certain ecclesiastical reforms”, but said the Pope had always acted “in a spirit of honesty and self-criticism” in tackling issues from clerical sex abuse to family decline.

“He recalled again and again that the Church must draw the water of life from its own divine, transcendent source, not from the troubled waters of the world, which are too vulnerable to disappointment,” the conference president said.

  • Bob Schwiderski

    Here’s a list of 228
    accused clerics, nuns and staff – [updated]


      — Added:  — Bro. Stephen Baker, TOR, — Fr. Martin A. Brady,
    TOR (Franciscan friar);

  • Cassandra

    Have you also a list of those accused from other sects as well?

    I am interested to know.

  • Gabrielle_fey

    Archbishop Zollitsch does well to ask pardon in the name of the German church. As a Brit who has lived in Germany for 34 years I am saddened that especially his own people gave Pope Benedict such a hard time. I feel this over-critical church – with, of course, many exceptions and I do not mean Zollitsch himself – needs to examine itself.and its agendas. One big stumbling block is the obligatory church tax by which one becomes a “member” of the church. This keeps many seekers firmly outside. It’s no good arguing it has always been like that, as it was a political decision and only Germany and Austria have this system. Interestingly both countries have a very divided church.

  • Cassandra


  • LongIslandMichael

    He and the rest of his fellow German bishops also need to be asking for forgiveness for their heretical announcement to allow for the distribution of morning after pills in Catholic Hospitals for woman who have been raped. Either these bishops are completely ignorant of the fact that the morning after pill is an abortifacient or they are in open schism with the Church on the sanctity of all life. If it is the later then they are heretics and should be excommunicated. 

  • John Fisher

    German bishops also need to be asking for forgiveness for their heretical announcement to allow for the distribution of morning after pills in Catholic Hospitals for woman who have been raped. TRUE

    These episcopal conferences which are creation of Vat II are nothing other than national churches. They are the hotbeds of heresy and schism.

  • LongIslandMichael

    Totally agree. While the intent by Vatican II may have been good the results have become in my opinion disastrous because the intent was twisted and implemented in a way that weakened Church as a whole. If my memory serves me right Mr. Oddie wrote an excellent piece several months ago about the various national conferences of bishops. It was an excellent piece. I hope and pray that all these bishops conference are removed in the future. Here in the US the USCCB is absolutely useless.

  • LocutusOP

    Actually, Sweden has a similar system as well.

    However, I agree it’s monstrous and it should be done away with to rid the Church of the golf club mentality which the tax promotes, and the complacency and conflict of interest which hinder the cause of true evangelisation.

  • Charles Martel

    “The errors of his homeland”. Protestantism would seem to be the main of these, though closely followed up by Archbishop Zollitsch’s own denial of the atonement in 2009 – something that would have horrified Luther.

  • Diotima64

    The German Bishops are a sad lot, generally speaking. Zollitsch and especially Lehmann set my teeth on edge regularly.

  • Guest_in_NL

    This info is not correct, as it stands:

    The German bishops have discussed the possibility – indeed the claim some brought forward – that modern morning-after pills may prevent ovulation instead of nidation, in which case it would therfore be not abortifacient. (A claim that is hotly contested by others.)

    Under these circumstances the German bishops have ruled that IF (!) there is such a pill or can be developed, it woudl be admissible. They were very careful in their stetment to rule out a use as an early abortifacient.

    The medical question of what the effects of the pills are under what specific circumstances they left to medical science