- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A German pope

The German ambassador was giving a speech in New York yesterday when he received word that German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope.

Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger was addressing Humanity in Action, a nongovernmental organization, when suddenly the news of the new pope began to spread through the room.

“Everybody started to congratulate me, and I said, ‘I do not deserve congratulations,’ but I accepted them gratefully,” he said.

Taking the name Benedict XVI, the pontiff is the first German-speaking pope in nearly 1,000 years. The last was Victor II, who reigned from 1055 to 1057.

The ambassador said his meeting with the humanitarian organization was an appropriate place to receive the news.

“We were talking about tolerance, minority rights, anti-Semitism,” Mr. Ischinger said.

The new pope “has been strong not only on church values, but the values of the trans-Atlantic alliance,” the ambassador added.

“Germans are proud that the decision has been to select a German national. It has been a very long time. This is a moment of pride for all of the German people, especially for German Catholics,” he said.

More than 25 million Germans are Roman Catholics, making them the largest religious minority in a nation of more than 80 million people.

Mr. Ischinger said he expects that the new pope fully realizes the challenge of succeeding Pope John Paul II.

“This is a moment of great expectations,” the ambassador said.

March against terror

An American-Islamic group is planning the “first ever march against terror” to demonstrate that Muslims in the United States oppose extremism.

“Please join us and help us send a message to the terrorists and extremists that their days are numbered,” said Kamal Nawash of Free Muslims Against Terrorism. “Also join us in sending a message to the people of the Middle East, the Muslim world and all people who seek freedom, democracy and peaceful coexistence that we support them.”

The demonstration at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue NW at 1 p.m. on May 14 has been endorsed by 30 organizations that represent Iranians, Lebanese, Syrians, Kurds and other ethnic Muslim groups that support democracy.

Against CAFTA

There is mounting congressional opposition to a free-trade agreement for Caribbean nations, as Democrats and Republicans join business groups, labor unions and others in a coalition of odd bedfellows dedicated to defeating the pact.

The latest move comes today when Rep. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat; Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat; and Rep. Charlie Norwood, Georgia Republican, hold a noon press conference on the terrace of the Cannon House Office Building.

They say the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will cause the loss of American jobs and damage agricultural interests.

“The opposition to CAFTA crosses all policy and political barriers,” Mr. Brown said yesterday in announcing the press conference.

“Members [of Congress] are reaching across the aisle, and organizations that do not normally work together are uniting to prevent CAFTA from ever reaching the House floor for a vote.”

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, intends to bring the measure to a vote by Memorial Day. The trade pact, which had its first hearing in the Senate last week, was signed by President Bush last year.

“Scores of trade groups that should support CAFTA this time are adamantly opposed,” Mr. Brown said.

The ambassadors of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua say the measure would create jobs in their region and increase U.S. exports to their countries.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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