Pope addresses German parliament
Pope Benedict XVI has addressed Germany's parliament in the historic Reichstag building, warning that politicians must not sacrifice ethics for power and evoking the Nazi excesses of his homeland as a lesson in history.
Amid scattered protests outside and a boycott by some lawmakers, Benedict began his first state visit to Germany in a bid to stem the tide of Catholics leaving the church while acknowledging the damage caused by the clerical sex abuse scandal.
The Pope spoke for 20 minutes in the Reichstag, which was torched in 1933 in an incident used by Hitler to strengthen his grip on power.
"We Germans know from our own experience" what happens when power is corrupted, Benedict said, describing Nazis as a "highly organised band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss".
But he said even under the Nazi dictatorship resistance movements stuck to their beliefs at a great risk, "thereby doing a great service to justice and to humanity as a whole".
He also urged Germans not to ignore religion.
"Even today, there is ultimately nothing else we could wish for but a listening heart - the capacity to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace," he said.
Benedict also voiced strong support for Germany's ecological movement, calling it "a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside".
After the speech, he met with a 15-member Jewish delegation, noting that it was in Berlin that the annihilation of European Jews was organised.
"The supposedly 'almighty' Adolf Hitler was a pagan idol, who wanted to take the place of the biblical God," Benedict said, according to a prepared text.