Chancellor Scholz remembers former pope Benedict as ‘formative figure’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz paid tribute to former pope Benedict XVI, who died Saturday aged 95, as a "special church leader" who helped shape the Catholic church.

Pope Benedict
In this file photo taken on April 4, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI delivers the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) Easter message from the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli / AFP

“As a ‘German’ pope, Benedict XVI was a special church leader for many, not only this country,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.

“The world has lost a formative figure of the Catholic Church, an argumentative personality and a clever theologian.”

In a separate statement, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier described Benedict as someone who “has made dialogue between faith and reason his life’s work”.

He had also sought dialogue with Jews, Muslims and all Christian denominations worldwide, said the president.

Steinmeier also noted that Benedict had been confronted by the sex abuse scandal that had rocked the Catholic Church worldwide.

He “knew of the great suffering of the victims and the immense damage to the credibility of the Catholic Church,” said Steinmeier.

While hailing Benedict as an “impressive theologian and experienced shepherd”, the head of the German Bishops Conference was more critical about Benedict’s record over the abuse scandal.

“He asked for forgiveness from those affected and yet questions remained unanswered,” said Georg Baetzing.

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Scholz calls for Ukraine backing as aid wobbles

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday called on Western allies to send a "message" to Russian President Vladimir Putin by renewing their support for Ukraine, as political divisions threatened to hold up aid.

Scholz calls for Ukraine backing as aid wobbles

Russia’s war in Ukraine was one that would likely “drag on for a long time”, Scholz said at a press conference.

“That is why it is important to formulate a long-term perspective that we are prepared to support Ukraine for as long as it is necessary and to the extent it is necessary,” said Scholz, speaking alongside his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

Putin was “hoping the readiness in our countries to do what is necessary and to formulate the necessary support diminishes”, Scholz said. “It would be a very important message, if we told him: don’t count on it.”

Germany along with its partners in NATO and the European Union have provided Ukraine with billions in aid to sustain its war effort. But the stream of support has looked at risk of drying up as political divisions on both sides of the Atlantic threaten to block new supplies.

In the EU, Hungary’s prime minister has threatened to block fresh billions in aid, when the bloc’s 27 leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday. At the summit, the EU is eyeing agreements to give Ukraine 50 billion euros ($54 billion) more in financial aid, topping up a weapons fund for Kyiv by five billion euros and opening talks to join the bloc next year.

Meanwhile in the United States, Republican senators last week blocked $106 billion in emergency aid primarily for Ukraine and Israel in a dispute over immigration reforms.

Outgoing Prime Minister Rutte expressed confidence that the Netherlands would continue to back Ukraine, after the far-right topped the polls in national elections last month. “I am convinced that in the Netherlands we have a large majority… that is pro-Ukraine, which will ensure that we continue with support for Ukraine,” Rutte said.

READ ALSO: Scholz says Ukraine support ‘of existential importance’ – despite debt woes