Rallies and meetings to show solidarity with the Holy Father appear to be catching on, not least in Benedict XVI’s native Germany.

According to an article in today’s Die Tagespost, a group called “Germany for the Pope” has organized two rallies in Cologne and Munich on Sunday July 11 – the Feast of St. Benedict.

The idea came from Sabine Beschmann who watched on YouTube the large rally held in St. Peter’s Square last month in support of the Pope following the sexual abuse crisis. An estimated 200,000 faithful travelled from all over Italy to join him in the Angelus prayer.

Beschmann, who developed a stronger bond with the Church and the Successor of Peter following participation in World Youth Day, wondered if Germany could do the same thing. And so far, she says the response has been very positive – all the more surprising given Germany’s reportedly very secular society.

The article says “thousands of Catholics have said they will take part in the solidarity rallies, and it is growing every day. Many want to travel by rail or bus from other dioceses - despite the World Cup final, which is to take place in the evening.” Even a Cologne-based printing company has provided free flyers and posters which have been sent across to parishes, religious and spiritual communities across the country.

To gauge public opinion, Beschmann set up a Facebook page and almost immediately received hundreds of fans, “mostly from young people”, she says. Then she set up a web page and planned on a date, the Feast of St. Benedict being the most appropriate. Although the events probably won’t attract as many as 200,000, it looks promising.

Also from Germany is the news that the University of Regensburg has created a chair devoted to deepening the thought of Benedict XVI. According to an article in Il Giornale, the idea came from former students of Professor Joseph Ratzinger presided by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. Starting from next year, the position will be filled by a German or foreign professor who will conduct research for a maximum of three months in Regensburg. The paper says he doesn’t have to be a theologian but could be a philosopher or someone similar.

The hope is that in 5 years, “it will contribute to the study of theology according to the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger.”