Expected in summer

A little advance notice: The new expert report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Munich and Freising is expected to be published this summer, according to Cardinal Reinhard Marx.

"I believe that when we experience our report in the summer, there will certainly be some points where we can still improve, where some things are not yet as we might imagine," Marx said Saturday at the spring plenary meeting of the Diocesan Council of Catholics in the archdiocese.

"Westpfahl report still under lock and key

Christina Cherry

More and more people stay away from churches © Benjamin Haas (shutterstock)

The high number of church departures is dramatic, says also the vice-president of the ZdK. Karin Kortmann finds it particularly alarming that the highest numbers of resignations are recorded in German states that are originally Catholic.

Interviewer: High numbers were already to be expected or did you expect different numbers?

Karin Kortmann (Vice President of the Central Committee of German Catholics): We were all looking forward to these figures, but we did not expect them to be so brutal. I mean, if the result is that the church has lost its meaning and value for the shaping of their lives for more than a quarter of a million people who have been Catholic believers up to now, then this is a dramatic development that is taking place. All these effects often come a little later. When does someone consciously resign and say, "I've had enough now??

Christina Cherry

Even in Corona times: Vatican urges help for refugees © Emrah Gurel

The Vatican has warned against restrictions on the rights of refugees under the pretext of the Corona crisis. Regrettably, "the pandemic has also become a protection crisis".

The Holy See's representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, addressed the Standing Committee of the UNHCR refugee agency. Border security and the well-being of refugees and asylum seekers should not be seen as mutually exclusive priorities, the diplomat said, according to the speech script circulated Wednesday.

Christina Cherry
Bishopric confirms incidents

Symbol image abuse in the church © Clearviewstock (shutterstock)

In Emsland, a later Catholic deacon is said to have sexually abused a teenager for more than three years. The diocese of Osnabruck confirmed a corresponding report of the "Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung", in which the affected person has her say.

At the time of the first acts, which are said to have occurred in the 1980s, she was 14 years old, the now 49-year-old victim told the "Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung" (online). Among other things, the man, who was then engaged as a choirmaster, had repeatedly waylaid her, touched her indecently and masturbated in her presence.

Christina Cherry

Limburg Catholic Bishop and Chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Georg Batzing, is pushing for reforms in the Catholic Church. Change is a challenge; the Corona crisis also offers experience.

In an interview with the magazine "Publik-Forum" (Friday), he said with regard to the reform dialogue Synodaler Weg, which the church started in Frankfurt at the beginning of 2020: "There, Catholics, who represent a cross-section of our church, have begun to ascertain among themselves what is to be called Catholic today. When it comes to this, I am completely on the side of the visionaries."

Christina Cherry
Pope reaffirms fight against abuse after mccarrick report

In his video address, Pope Francis reaffirmed the fight against abuse after the Vatican's McCarrick report. Even in dark times, the Pope also encourages prayer. For St. Martin's Day, the head of the church paid tribute to the saint via Twitter.

Following the publication of the report on moral offenses by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the role of the Vatican, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the will to fight abuse. "I renew my closeness to the victims of every abuse and the commitment of the Church to eradicate this evil," he said Wednesday in his weekly video message from the Vatican. Referring to McCarrick, he spoke of a "painful case".

Christina Cherry

Women and sexual morality were the focus of the second round of discussions on the Synodal Way. Essen's Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck wants to develop an appropriate culture of conflict.

Interviewer: What is your assessment of the Dortmund regional conference?

Franz-Josef Overbeck (Bishop of Essen): It has become clear that the Corona pandemic is a "fire accelerator" for many perspectives of church, but also social life, which are changing. And in the topics of the forums dealing with the question and role of women in the church at all levels, but also sexual morality and relationships of people have also shown that there is a great need for discussion here. We have discussed today very objectively and quite calmly and have been very concerned to argue close to the people and at the same time not to forget the long tradition of the church.

Christina Cherry

Large congregation without personal encounter? One pastor for dozens of congregations? The pastoral path for the future in the Archdiocese of Cologne remains a challenge. After all, the restructuring is to be completed by 2030.

Interviewer: The interest at the moment is mainly in the clarification of sexualized violence in the archdiocese of Cologne in the past. Is this also a reason why the special meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council on the Pastoral Way Forward was canceled?

Guido Zimmermann (District Dean Euskirchen, member of the Pastoral Way Forward): I already think to myself. I believe that almost all members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council have one topic at the moment: That is coming to terms with the abuse. We are concerned about that. We are worried about our archdiocese. And I think that on Saturday we all would not have had the head to deal with the Pastoral Way Forward. The topic of abuse, I believe, has come like mildew on our archdiocese and also on the work of the diocesan pastoral council. In this respect, I think that last Saturday the topic of the Pastoral Way Forward would not have been the right topic. In that sense, that was a reason to cancel this meeting.

Christina Cherry
New president elected

The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland has a new senior minister. The state synod, which met on the Internet because of the Corona pandemic, elected Thorsten Latzel, director of the Protestant Academy in Frankfurt am Main, as its president.

He succeeds Manfred Rekowski; the clergyman, who had leukemia, retires at 63 at the beginning of March.

Large majority of voices

Latzel received 113 votes in the first round of voting. His opponents, Erfurt theologian Reiner Knieling (57) and Siegburg Superintendent Almut van Niekerk (53), received 17 and 57 votes, respectively. Latzel is the first president to come from a regional church other than the Rhineland church.

Christina Cherry
Enabling encounters away from the virtual world

According to the theologians Gregor Maria Hoff, Julia Knop and Thomas Soding, the Corona crisis has led to a digitalization push in the Catholic Church. However, the opportunities are also faced with dangers.

Thus they warn in a now published impulse paper. The Internet must not become a "projection screen for church images that work with exclusions". The danger of "filter bubbles developing and hate speech entering the church" must be averted.

At the same time, the theologians demand that spaces of encounter continue to be kept open away from the virtual world, for example for economically weak, health-challenged, lonely and old people. The restrictions on fundamental rights such as freedom of religion and freedom of assembly imposed in the fight against Corona should not become a permanent state of affairs. "The public presence of the church is due to its mission."

Christina Cherry