I'm putting this post in here because of its importance to the secular realm in Europe. From Zenit:
Pope Has "Intense" Meeting With German Chancellor
2 Weeks Ahead of Papal Trip to Germany
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI received German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a 40-minute private audience, which she later described as "intense."
The meeting held in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo came two weeks before the Holy Father's apostolic trip to his native Bavaria, from Sept. 9-14.
Speaking to reporters after the audience, Merkel said that the two "had an intense conversation on world politics, especially on the situation in the Middle East and on what the international community is doing with Iran."
One key topic was the development of the present process of European integration and of the continent's identity, she said.
"I believe a European identity is needed, in the form of a Constitutional Treaty and, from my point of view, it should be connected to Christianity and God, as Christianity has forged Europe in a decisive way," she added, as reported by Vatican Radio.
At present, the draft of the Constitutional Treaty, which made no reference to Europe's Christian roots, is at a standstill after it was rejected in referendums held in France and Holland last year.
Merkel clarified that her meeting with the Bishop of Rome took place in her capacity as chancellor of Germany, and not as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, though it was mentioned that the party has a very good relationship with the Vatican.
The chancellor traveled in a private plane to Rome, accompanied by six people, among them her foreign affairs and security adviser, Christoph Heusgen, responsible for the security plan for the Pope's visit to Bavaria.
Aware of the Pope's passion for music, Merkel gave him an old Mozart score.