BERLIN -- Pope Benedict XVI can cross an outstanding charge of failing to use a seatbelt from his list of worries.
The southern German city of Freiburg on Wednesday (Nov. 30) threw out charges against the pontiff for riding in his popemobile without a seatbelt during a September visit.
"There will be no fine for the pope," city spokeswoman Edith Lamersdorf, told the daily Badische Zeitung. "The charges were quashed."
Although there is a requirement in Germany to wear seatbelts, even in slow-moving vehicles, city officials ruled that the law didn't apply in the pope's case because the street on which he was spotted without a seatbelt had been closed for public traffic the day of his visit.
Attorney Christian Sundermann had filed the complaint on behalf of an unnamed German resident of Dortmund. Freiburg was Benedict's last stop during his September visit to his native Germany.
BERLIN -- Just because the pope gets to ride in the popemobile doesn't give him license not to wear a seat belt.
So says an unnamed German man who filed charges against Pope Benedict XVI for allegedly failing to use a seat belt while touring Germany on an official visit in September.
Attorney Christian Sundermann confirmed that the complaint was filed with authorities in Freiburg, the southern German city that was Benedict's last stop during his German visit, according to the newspaper Der Westen.
The unnamed plaintiff, from Dortmund, argues that the pope was seen several times during the visit without a seat belt. The complaint offers several eyewitnesses, including the archbishop of Freiburg, the head of the German Conference of Bishops and the premier of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where Freiburg sits.
The complaint refers to a "Mr. Joseph Ratzinger" -- the German-born pope's given name -- and sightings of him on Sept. 24 and 25 riding in a vehicle without a seat belt "for more than an hour."
BERLIN -- A divorced doctor fired from his job at a Catholic hospital because he married another woman should be reinstated, a German court ruled Thursday.
The ruling by Germany’s highest labor court means that church organizations may fire someone if they are found not living up to church standards, but only if there is no overriding argument for the person to retain his job.
The case concerned a doctor at St. Vincent Hospital in Dusseldorf. According to a court press release, after he was divorced from his first wife, the doctor moved in with another woman, before marrying her in a civil ceremony.
The hospital then fired him, noting that when he was hired in 2000, he had signed documents promising to follow Catholic values.
The judges said that the hospital weakened its case by not disciplining the doctor when he was cohabitating and by not enforcing similar rules on non-Catholic employees.
They also noted that the man’s first wife had left him—and that the doctor and his new wife remained committed to church doctrine.
BERLIN (RNS) -- For the first time since membership records have been kept, more Germans departed the Roman Catholic Church than were baptized into it in 2010, according to new data from Germany’s Catholic Conference of Bishops.
The new statistics, which were released with little analysis or comment, showed 170,339 baptisms for the year, and 181,193 departures from the church. However, 3,576 new members, and more than 7,400 returning Catholics, joined the church last year.
Nevertheless, the long-term prognosis does not look good, with overall church membership shrinking, year-on-year, from 24.9 million in 2009 to 24.6 million. Church attendance figures also dipped slightly.
Catholic church leaders across the country reported officiating at 252,965 funerals and 48,524 weddings.