BERLIN German Catholics upset about media attacks on Pope Benedict over the "Vatileaks" scandal can now show solidarity with the German-born pontiff by sending pre-printed postcards bearing the message "We are with you!"
Benedict, 85, has criticized press coverage of the scandal that began in January with the leaking of confidential documents alleging corruption, mismanagement and cronyism in the awarding of contracts in the Vatican.
Germany's 'Pro-Papa' group said it wanted to do "something more than praying" to support Benedict, who has expressed "sadness in my heart" over the scandal rocking the Church.
"Anyone can download the postcard template with Benedict's image and the preprinted solidarity message 'Pope Benedict, we are with you!' and then send it to the Holy Father," the head of the group, Sabine Benedikta Beschmann, told Reuters.
Around 1,000 people have downloaded and sent the postcard since the launch of the initiative a week ago, she said.
It is not the first time Pro-Papa has rallied support for Benedict, who was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became pope in 2005.
In 2010 the group organized a rally of 10,000 people in Germany to back him after a sexual abuse scandal.
"We did not want to dispute the seriousness of the abuses but only to say that the attacks against the pope and against Catholics made by the press were unbearable," Beschmann said.
The "Vatileaks" scandal has led to the arrest of Pope Benedict's butler on suspicion of stealing documents. Vatican insiders say he is merely a scapegoat in a much wider power struggle within the Holy See.
The 'Pro-Papa' group will meet Benedict's older brother Georg Ratzinger, a priest based in southern Germany, on Saturday, to present their initiative, said Beschmann.
Ratzinger will then inform Benedict about the postcard project as "he did for the 2010 gathering as Benedict greeted us from St Peter's Square during Sunday's mass," she added.
(Reporting By Elisa Oddone, editing by Gareth Jones and Paul Casciato)