Pope Benedict XVI held an open air mass with at least 70,000 fellow Catholics in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Thursday, the opening day of his first state visit to his native Germany.
The 84-year-old gave Holy Communion to thirty worshippers picked at random. He did refer briefly to recent sex abuse scandals, saying that the Church contains “both good and bad fish”.
Earlier, Benedict urged politicians in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, not to sacrifice ethics for power. His speech was boycotted by 100 lawmakers from leftist opposition parties.
If Benedict’s arrival split the Bundestag, it also left his homeland divided.
One poll for the weekly news magazine Stern found that 86 percent of Germans thought his visit was “unimportant”.
It also sparked some protests in the German capital. Several thousand demonstrators marched through Berlin to attack the Pope’s views on issues from gay rights to sex abuse.
Police and organisers said the rally had attracted up to 10,000 people.