|photo from tagesschau.de|
The Pope--who is from Bavaria--is going to be in Germany for three days, and will even be speaking in the Bundestag (congress) in Berlin. This is a bit controversial, because he's there as a political figure who is also a religious figure... Some of the representatives (about 100) are not attending the speech in parliament out of protest. Elke Ferner (SPD) had a good interview where she said that the parliament should be about dialogue and discussion, and obviously this will not be the case with this speech. Very few foreign heads of start are invited to speak in front of the Bundestag. Nixon was the first in 1969, others include Nelson Mandela and Vladimir Putin.
Someone once said to me that a big difference between charity in the US and Germany is that in the US we don't pay as high of taxes, so it's more up to individuals to be engaged and support the charities they want to support. In Germany they pay really high taxes, but they expect that this money is going to the right things. So paying a church tax is a way of supporting programs like "Brot für die Welt" that fight world hunger, or the German Red Cross and its programs. As a result, there is less volunteering and fundraising, and such things.
Addendum: Just saw the New York Times has a piece on this today: A Papal Homecoming to a Combative Germany