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Current Affairs

German Visas for the Faithful

About 800,000 young Catholics are expected to attend World Youth Day in Cologne in August. Many require a visa to enter Germany: Foreign ministry officials have thought of a somewhat unusual way to prevent abuse.

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If you want to come to Germany, please identify the depicted scene

Germany wants to be seen as a country that welcomes the world. A year from now, millions of people are expected to attend the soccer world cup. "The world as Germany's guest" is the slogan that's been picked to promote that event.

Papst Benedikt Amtseinführung Petersplatz Menge

Benedict XVI will face the masses in Cologne just like he did during his inauguration in Rome in April

The World Youth Day might not receive quite as much global attention, but with German-born Pope Benedict XVI expected to attend, it's still a major affair.

As a result, Youth Day visitors from countries that still need visas to enter Germany will not have to pay the normal fees, according to foreign ministry officials. Instead, they might be asked to prove their Christian convictions.

On Monday, German tabloid Bild ran a fake Christianity questionnaire visa applicants in Albania will allegedly have to fill out before being allowed to enter Germany.

"When and how did Jesus die?" read one question. "What are the names of the sons of Adam and Eve?" was another, and finally: "How long did Jesus remain on earth after his resurrection before ascending to heaven?"

Antrag auf Visum

The regular visa application does not include questions about Christianity

A foreign ministry spokeswoman told DW-WORLD that the German embassy in Albania's capital Tirana had merely suggested such a procedure and added that there were no plans to ask visa applicants to fill out such questionnaires. Besides, now that the questions (and Bild's answers) were out in the open, it wouldn't make sense to still ask them, she said.

What could happen, however, is that applicants might be asked a question or two during their interviews at the embassy to test their Christian knowledge, the spokeswoman said. Local churches might also be asked to screen applicants and write letters of recommendation before sending them to the embassy, she added.

"Godspeed" is all that's left to wish.

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