Berlin Court Blocks Billboards to Welcome Pope

Catholic Organization to Seek Appeal

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BERLIN, Germany, SEPT. 7, 2011 ( Authorities in Berlin have blocked efforts by a Catholic organization to use large billboards in its historic central district to welcome Benedict XVI to the city later this month.

The nonprofit group Credo proposed to re-use campaign billboards of Chancellor Angela Merkel that were erected ahead of regional elections on Sept. 18. The Holy Father will arrive in Berlin Sept. 22.

On Tuesday, however, an administrative court ruled against the proposal, stating that the billboards would be unsightly and distracting to drivers, which could cause traffic accidents, reports the Agence France-Press.

The 100-square-foot billboards are normally not allowed in the city’s Mitte district, and are only exceptionally allowed for election campaigns and for «reasons of overwhelming public interest,» which are determined by local authorities.

Credo, founded by Christoph Lehmann, says it is seeking an appeal.

On Sept. 22, Benedict XVI will travel to Germany for the third time during his pontificate. He will visit the Marian shrine at Etzelsbach and the cities of Berlin, Erfurt and Freiburg im Breisgau. 

The Pope will preside at more than two-dozen events, in addition to participating in several other private meetings and lunches. He will deliver 18 addresses.

The 84-year-old Pontiff is scheduled to meet with the chancellor and president of Germany, leaders of the Jewish, Islam, Orthodox and Evangelical communities, as well as preside at a youth gathering and a public Mass in the nation’s Olympic stadium.

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