Wolfgang Ehrenlechner © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
Young family in the sunset © Patrick Pleul
The chairman of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), Wolfgang Ehrenlechner, has called the Synod of Bishops on family ies, which begins this weekend in Rome, a "daring undertaking".
Ehrenlechner said he hoped the bishops would find a globally communicable answer to the many questions of a Christian relationship and family life in three weeks' time.
"Paying attention to reality of young people's lives"
"Precisely because the realities of life are so different around the world, we would find it very unsatisfactory if at the end there were only a recommendation for a somewhat more generous treatment of divorced and remarried people," Ehrenlechner continued. "Of course we also see a need for action here, but the challenges are more diverse and the realities of young people's lives in particular were hardly mentioned in the preparatory document."
Cultural differences between local churches should be taken into account
Instead, he said, he would like to see an acceptance of worldwide differences, so that the individual local churches can each have their own discussions, based on the Christian faith, about how believers can shape their relational lives out of Christian responsibility. "Unity is more than uniformity," Ehrenlechner emphasized, adding, "We wish that the church can once again be a credible and important instance of the transmission of values, also for young people. This is why we hope that the Synod will accept cultural differences between local churches and, in their respective contexts, focus more on the conscience of the faithful rather than on teaching individual norms of prohibition."
Western society more tolerant of homosexual partnership
For example, he said, the rejection of homosexual partnerships in Western societies is no longer accepted by a broad majority of young believers. "We are committed to the acceptance of same-sex relationships. However, we cannot and do not want to impose this attitude on other local churches, even if we find it correct. What we need is more courage for diversity, also between different local churches."