Pope's German Honeymoon Is Kaput

Bungling over rebel bishop squandered nation's pride in pontiff
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2009 2:42 AM CST
Bishop Richard Williamson talks about his controversial positions during an interview late last year in Schierling, Germany.    (AP Photo/Courtesy SVT)
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(Newser) – The first German pope in nearly 500 years has lost the confidence of Germans as swiftly as a collapsing mortgage lender, Alexander Smoltcyzk writes in Der Spiegel. The scandal surrounding the reinstatement of Holocaust denying Bishop Richard Williamson has done lasting damage to the pope's authority and reputation, replacing the German public's affection with disappointment and suspicion, writes Smoltcyzk.

The Vatican is hoping to get past the controversy, but the old rift between German Catholics and Rome has been ripped wide open again. It's uncertain how much damage has been done or how much confidence the pope can regain, writes Smoltcyzk. "What's definite is that the honeymoon between the Germans and their pope is over," he notes.