The Pope has begun his visit to his native Germany and called on politicians to beware confusing power with justice. In a speech to parliament’s lower house the Bundestag he warned them against passing laws contrary to freedom and human dignity.
He made little specific reference to current problems but evoked the country’s Nazi past, recalling times when resistance to legal rules in force was justified.
“If you take rights away, what is the State other than a big group of bandits, said Saint Augustine. We Germans know from our own experience, that these words are not an empty spectre. We have lived through a time when power and rights were separate,” said the pontiff.
Earlier, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s President Wulff welcomed Pope Benedict.
He has appealed to Catholics not to quit the Church, after the mass exodus that followed a series of clerical abuse scandals.
But his words have failed to deter protesters objecting to the visit.