I’m not sure why these farmers would go to Rome; the one who is supposedly Catholic doesn’t practice and the others aren’t Catholic at all. How can the Pope help?
Maybe there’ll be a follow-up article somewhere.
TRACTOR PILGRIMAGE TO ROME
Dairy Farmers Place Faith in Pope
A quartet of German dairy farmers is on a pilgrimage to Rome — via tractor. With milk prices plummeting, the men have lost their faith in politicians. Instead they hope to gain an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
A rustic group is winding its way towards Rome on a nine-day pilgrimage by tractor. Their aim? To gain a brief audience with Pope Benedict XVI so that they can urge him to help Europe’s dairy farmers.
Dairy farmers are suffering from a slump in milk prices. Can the pope help?
The four men, Albert Kobrow, Jacob de Vries, Michael Bobsien and Wolfgang Werk von Perleberg, left their homes in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in the far north east of Germany, last Friday. And all along their route so far, they have been greeted by fellow farmers and sympathizers.
The four men are hoping to draw attention to the farming community’s misery, not just in their own rural corner of Germany but across Europe. Dairy farmers are suffering from a severe slump in prices and in Germany they are currently only making between 17 and 19 cents a liter of milk. Many are struggling to make ends meet and could soon be driven out of business.
The quartet heading for Rome belong to the German Federal Association of Dairy Farmers (BDM) and they all went to Brussels in May to take part in protests organized by European dairy farmers calling for the European Union milk quotas to be lowered.
The convoy of two tractors and a VW bus is traveling under the motto: “We have lost our faith in politics, but not in the church.” Although two of the group are not even Catholic that hasn’t deterred them from hoping the pope will grant them a brief audience. “The pope is there for everyone,” De Vries, who came with the idea of the pilgrimage, told the Neumarkter Nachrichten on Sunday. De Vries said he didn’t want to give up his protests without trying everything to ensure the agrarian future for his three sons, who work on the farm with him. A Lutheran pastor from the town of Bützow, Karl-Martin Schabow, has even provided the men with a letter of petition to hand over to the pontiff.
Another of the pilgrims, the 38-year-old Kobow, may be a Catholic but, as he told Bild newspaper on Tuesday, “I only go to church for christenings, weddings and funerals.” Nevertheless, he has faith in the 1,800 kilometer trip to Rome. “We wanted to do something new, a change from the usual demonstrations. We hope that society and politicians will finally wake up.”
So far the men have made good progress, traveling around 250 kilometers a day, and they aim to reach the Vatican by Friday morning. Before he left his 500 dairy cows back home in the village of Dadow bei Ludwigslust, De Vries told local newspaper theSchweriner Volkszeitung that he may have lost his faith in politics but not in the “up high above.” He said he was sure that the pope would give them at least three minutes of his time, “because we are travelling by tractor from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean.”
smd — with wire reports
Source: Der Spiegel