BERLIN — Instead of a pleasant visit to his native land, the trip to Germany this week by Pope Benedict XVI promises to be a journey to one of the front lines in the battle over the future of the Roman Catholic Church.
The protests and demonstrations announced for the pope’s visit are a far cry from the jubilation set off here by his election to the papacy more than six years ago. There was a naïveté to that celebration, which ignored the collision course between an increasingly secular society and a church leader set on a conservative, traditional path.
Benedict will be greeted with demands for change on a variety of controversial issues, including the celibacy requirement for priests, women’s role in the church, gay rights and aid for victims of sexual abuse by priests. Many in Parliament have threatened to boycott his speech to its members.