“A competence of lived faith”

The Bishop of Dresden, Heinrich Timmerevers, pleads for more East German experiences to be taken into account in the reform dialogue of the Catholic Church in Germany. Next weekend begins the Synodal Way, which looks at the future of church life.

"It is not about quotas for the East, but about a competence of lived faith that people should bring into this process in an enriching way," writes Timmerevers in a guest article for the magazine "Herder-Korrespondenz" (December) on the synodal journey that begins this weekend.

In the initiative, which will initially run for two years, the German bishops and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), together with other representatives from various areas of the church, want to discuss the future of church life in Germany. One goal here is to come to terms with the abuse and regain trust lost after the abuse scandal. The main topics are sexual morality, the priestly way of life, power and the separation of powers, and the role of women in the church.

Freedom did not always mean prosperity

The bishop of the Dresden-Meissen diocese emphasized that he would like to see "a country and a church that does not perceive the east of the republic as deficient 30 years after the peak of the Peaceful Revolution". For he sees a region that is "outgrowing itself and people who have courageously continued their biographies under changed circumstances".

At the same time, Timmerevers also reports on the "extremely painful experiences" of people in the new German states. Thus "people tell of failure, of sudden winner-loser change and of slipping into socially precarious situations through no fault of their own, because the experience of freedom was not necessarily accompanied by prosperity," the bishop explained. In addition, he said, society and the churches in all eastern German states are missing an entire generation. "They have bid farewell to this country and found a new home in the old federal states."

He would like to see "the honest and unprejudiced perception of all the ambivalences experienced," the bishop continued: "What if we – that is, the entire republic – were to perceive more empathetically than before what people in the new federal states have experienced?". At the same time, he called for "empathy for the individual fate in equal measure as well as the clear word where human dignity is trampled underfoot".

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Christina Cherry
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