Laity on a par with the bishops

Laity on a par with the bishops

The highest body of German lay Catholicism wants to discuss reforms in the church "at eye level" with the bishops and expects concrete results in the process. With a large majority, the ZdK plenary assembly voted for the proposal.

Under these conditions, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) decided at its spring plenary assembly, which ended today, Saturday, to participate in the "synodal way" proposed by the bishops.

The decision of the approximately 230-member plenary assembly fell with large majority. The German Bishops' Conference had suggested a "binding" joint discussion and reform process as a result of the abuse study published in the fall.

"Real will to reform"

Power reduction, access to ecclesiastical ordination offices, compulsory celibacy and sexual morality are to be topics of discussion. ZdK President Thomas Sternberg said he senses a "real will to reform" among most German bishops.

Before the ZdK plenary assembly, Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe campaigned for lay participation. "We bishops can't get anywhere on our own," said Hebe, who is spiritual assistant to the ZdK. The synodal journey will be about power, ministry in the church and sexual morality. In addition "around questions after the priesthood", so Hebe, who added: "There it goes around the question of the Zolibats or also around the woman topic." Hebe: "Such a synodal way only makes sense if no topics are excluded."

More equality demanded

Today, Saturday, ZdK Vice President Claudia Lucking-Michel renewed the demand of the Catholic Committee to "grant women access to all church offices". If "women became clergy", not everything would be good, but different and in any case more diverse.

As long as the office of ordination is reserved exclusively for men, this weakens the sustainability of the church. Without women, the Catholic Church would not be able to function properly today, according to Lucking-Michel, who added: "The Catholic Church is ultimately a women's church led by men."Therefore, women must now start courageous initiatives, even if much is still "forbidden".

Roadmap for the "synodical path"

Archbishop Hebe went on to say that for the synodal path, "a plenum" still needs to be created. "There is no answer at the moment to the question of who sits in it and how is it decided." From 13. to 14. September an "Extended Joint Conference" with 20 representatives each of the ZdK and the Bishops' Conference is planned. Probably on 1. December, the "synodal path" will then officially begin.

Move to Berlin

The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) also decided to move from Bonn to Berlin. The main reason given for the change of location, which is to take place by 2022, was greater proximity to political decision-makers. The political, media and social "presence" of the ZdK would be improved by moving the General Secretariat to Berlin. "The music plays in Berlin," said ZdK President Thomas Sternberg.

Reference was also made to the "badly in need of renovation" condition of the ZdK buildings in Bonn. For the move to Berlin voted 123 participants of the assembly, 23 voted against and 3 abstained. Since its postwar reestablishment in 1952, the highest representative body of the Catholic laity in Germany has been headquartered in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. About 25 employees would be affected by a move.

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Christina Cherry
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