“Maybe then we will be taken seriously again!”

Father Rainer Maria Schiebler (l.) © Sebastian Widmann (KNA)

The Munich Catholic priest and best-selling author Rainer Maria Schiebler expects the trend of church departures to continue. But he also has an idea of how the church could be more present with the people again.

Church departures are likely to massively affect the cities, but the rural pastoral will also feel the departure, Schiebler told the Munich "Abendzeitung" (Tuesday). For him, however, this development is more a cause for departure than for resignation. "Now it is necessary to show that church wants to be nothing but home, which is open to everyone, no more and no less."

To this end, the church must take advantage of all opportunities, in the administration of sacraments such as baptism, weddings and funerals, says the pastor. It should also be present at public events and on the streets. In this context, Schiebler quoted the former bishop of Evreux in France, Jacques Gaillot: "If you are looking for God and the church, look for them at the side of the road, where God's heart beats just above the pavement."

Jesus movement as a model

At the same time, the priest advised to look to the beginning of the Jesus movement. At that time, people simply went along with Jesus, were fascinated by his words and his way of dealing with people. "That's how we need to set ourselves up today, too: Inviting people, reaching out to them, not waiting for them to come; our approach must be welcoming to the reality of people's lives."

The services had to be open and not exclusive, the language clear and understandable, the rites comprehensible and the doctrinal content addressing the spirit of the times, for example in sexual morality, Schiebler finds.

Under no circumstances is the systematic exclusion of people of female gender and other sexual orientations acceptable today: "Maybe then they will take us seriously again!"

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