Beings with severe behavioral disorders?

Beings with severe behavioral disorders?

Christiane Florin © private

Christiane Florin, born. 1968, head of the cultural department of the weekly newspaper "Rheinischer Merkur" and lecturer in political science at the University of Bonn. Awarded the Ernst Robert Curtius Prize for Essay Writing.

Everywhere at present about the church and its external effect one speaks. TV viewers must think Catholics are beings with severe behavioral disorders – this is what Christiane Florin, editorial director of the ZEIT supplement "Christ und Welt," writes.

Interviewer: How does the church stand at the moment in the TV chair circles?

Christiane Florin: The church manages at the moment the feat of looking bad even when sitting down. It is certainly not solely responsible for this, which is also related to the invitation policy of the talk shows. It's clear: talk shows are not primarily cultivated entertainment, conversation, but talk shows are first and foremost entertainment. That is, it is invited accordingly, depending on what roles you have, you just look for people who then also fill these roles. That applies to politics, to the economy, to culture, to social ies in general. What is striking, however, is that when it comes to religion and the church, people are very happy to invite someone who is not necessarily representative of the majority in the bishops' conference or even the majority of Catholics; instead, they often invite people who polarize, who can also serve very well as an enemy image and who simply serve certain Catholic cliches. But people often like to come on talk shows, they always say to.

Interviewer: In your article in Christ Welt, however, you also mention Franz-Josef Overbeck, the bishop of Essen, who was invited on Anne Will. The left whiplash, according to you, even though he is a bishop. To what extent?

Florin: That was a program in the year of the abuse scandal, in April 2010. And it was about the catholic sexual morals. The bishop's interlocutor was Rosa von Praunheim, it was a very heated, excited discussion situation, and Bishop Overbeck got carried away with the assertion that homosexuality is a sin, and then had to correct himself, there was a great media uproar. And when you talk to bishops about their talk show experience, they often tell you that they had the feeling that they were in a very difficult situation. You very often have the impression that when you look at a panel of four people and one is buried under all the others, that one is the Catholic. And bishops very often experience this as a situation from which they can no longer get out. Maybe it's because media training doesn't work well enough that one lacks the inner sovereignty to deal with such situations. And a bishop sits there not only as an individual, but always also as a public official, and therefore certainly has a very different responsibility than an artist, who can first speak for himself.
Interviewer: Let's have a look at the latest broadcast of Gunther Jauch on Sunday, to which the Bishops' Conference, on request, did not send a bishop, but the president of Caritas, Peter Neher. Was that a good choice or did he also polarize the audience??
Florin: I thought that was a good choice, because that was certainly a sensible choice when it came to the question of competence. Nehr is a great employer, he can say a lot of knowledgeable things about Catholic labor law. But I'm just not sure that the viewers really identified him with the Catholic Church. I think he came across as very sympathetic and thoughtful, but I don't think that radiated to the Catholic Church. But the one who was very much perceived as the face of Catholicism was Martin Lohmann. If you follow the discussion of the last days, in the BILD newspaper, in the Cologne Express, there this is a quite large topic, then also again with Markus Lanz, then that was Lohmann, which was noticed there as a Catholic in the transmission. Every editorial office is free to invite anyone – as I said earlier, it's about entertainment aspects, and Mr. Lohmann is certainly perfect in that respect – but as a Catholic myself, when I watch the talk shows on the subject of religion and the church in recent years, I ask myself whether it's never actually possible to represent the 99.99% of other Catholics. Well, I move around a lot within the church and I hardly ever encounter people who are like those who sit on the talk shows in the name of Catholicism. It is a sad state of affairs that it is not possible to produce someone – also from the church – who has a winning effect, who can explain all the discussions that take place within the church in a talk show with a few sentences in a generally understandable way; in other words, simply someone of whom the viewer thinks at the end of the show: "Well, gee, I'd like to talk to him some more now. That somehow does not succeed.
Interviewer: Do you have a person in mind there that you would suggest?

Florin: Oh, no, I don't have anyone in mind at the moment, that's actually the sad state of affairs. We have often talked and written about this, but perhaps it is also the case that the hierarchy with all its mechanisms does not produce such persons, because it is simply not a criterion how someone appears to the outside world, how someone deals with the public, and finally also how someone deals with people.

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