Relocation, synodal path and church congress

Relocation, synodal path and church congress

There was much to discuss on the first day of the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of German Catholics in Mainz. In view of the abuse debate, this was to be expected. But the course for the future has also been set in other areas.

The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) moves from Bonn to Berlin. This was decided by the plenary assembly of the ZdK on Friday in Mainz with a large majority. The plenum thus followed the presidium and the main committee of the ZdK, which had already voted for a complete relocation of the General Secretariat to the capital.

The main reason given for the relocation, which is to take place in 2022, is to be closer to political decision-makers. Since its postwar reestablishment in 1952, the highest representative body of the Catholic laity in Germany has had its headquarters in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. About 25 employees affected by move.

Catholic Committee supports "synodal way" of bishops

In connection with the processing of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany, the ZdK wants to participate in the "synodal way" proposed by the bishops for the renewal of the Church. This was decided by a large majority at the plenary assembly of the ZdK in Mainz on Friday. The German Bishops' Conference had suggested a "binding" joint discussion and reform process as a result of the abuse study published in the fall. The topics to be discussed include the reduction of power, access to church ordination offices, compulsory celibacy and sexual morality.

ZdK President Thomas Sternberg said this process must produce "concrete results" and take place "at eye level". With most of the German bishops, however, he senses a "real will to reform," said the president of the highest body of German lay Catholicism.

The Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hebe, called for the participation of the laity before the ZdK Plenary Assembly. "We bishops can't get anywhere on our own," said Hebe, who is spiritual assistant to the ZdK. The synodal path, he said, will address ies of power, ministry in the church and sexual morality. In addition, "there are questions about the priesthood," Hebe said, adding, "There is the question of celibacy or also the women's ie." Hebe: "Such a synodal way only makes sense if no topics are excluded."

The Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer (SPD), who is a member of the approximately 230-member plenary assembly of the ZdK, said, "I am open to this process, but also skeptical."Dreyer emphasized: "We need eye level, we also need intermediate results."The ZdK should not be "arrested" at the end for the processing of the abuse scandal. Other meeting participants warned against "merely unctuous words" and asked about bishops' "real willingness to change".

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 there and how is it decided."

Sternberg: Church must set an example in dealing with abuse

The processing of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Germany must, in the view of the highest Catholic lay representation, be pushed even more strongly. "The Catholic Church must have the ambition to become a role model for others when it comes to reappraisal and prevention," Sternberg said more. He added: "We are not yet at that point."

It is not enough to counter sexual abuse with seamless prevention and intervention concepts, Sternberg emphasized in his "Report on the Situation" at the ZdK's Spring Plenary Assembly. It is a matter of "changing our church in such a way that it does not provide a breeding ground for abuse".

In many countries there is currently "a change of course" and at the same time "a change of culture". He stands with the bishops and diocesan leaders who understand that "fundamental and drastic changes" are at stake, he said. Among the "vast majority" of German bishops, he said, he has been able to determine "that they perceive the current situation as a caesura and are ready for reforms".

Shocks among faithful following abuse study unveiled in September 2018 ran deep. "Never before have I experienced a situation in which the outrage reached so far into the core of our congregations," Sternberg said. "But that was probably just the straw that broke the camel's back in a pent-up anger over the church's failure to reform itself." The systemic causes of sexual abuse could now "no longer be left out of the equation".

Sexual violence is also "a global problem," Sternberg said, adding, "The fact that apparently in some countries and to no small extent women religious have also become victims of sexual violence is a scandal that no one in the church can let stand. Abuse was and is everywhere – and unfortunately also in our church." Sternberg said he was "very pleased" with Pope Francis' new norms on internal church procedures in cases of sexual abuse.

'Shocked' by court case on assisted suicide

The ZdK also views the discussion about organized assisted suicide in Germany with "great concern". ZdK President Thomas Sternberg expressed surprise at the course of the oral proceedings of the Federal Constitutional Court on lawsuits against the ban on assisted suicide by a professional.

He said he was "shocked that the proponents of liberalization and apparently also some judges consider it the epitome of human freedom to be able to end one's life with the help of doctors, assisted suicide associations or even state authorities," Sternberg said.

He added that every person has the right to die with dignity. "But the idea of a society in which suicide must be available as a service has for me nothing to do with respect for human dignity."In such a society, human dignity is stripped of its sanctity, he said.

"Suicide is not the summit of autonomy, but its extinction," Sternberg stressed to the ZdK plenary assembly.

The Protestant and Catholic Churches in Germany have already spoken out in remarkable unanimity in favor of banning assisted suicide for business purposes. The law passed by the Bundestag at the end of 2015 is "not an encroaching restriction of the right to self-determination," as it is often also portrayed in the media. The prohibition of assisted suicide protects sick, old and weak people from external determination and the prere that threatens when assisted suicide is legally and socially evaluated as normal.

ZdK officially invites to 103. Katholikentag 2024 in Erfurt a

Finally, the Central Committee of German Catholics, as the organizer, has officially scheduled 103. German Catholics Day 2024 in Erfurt invited. A corresponding resolution was passed unanimously on Friday afternoon in Mainz by the ZdK plenary assembly. As a period of time, the 29. May to 2. June 2024 provided.

Erfurt's Catholic Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr and the chairman of the Erfurt Catholic Council, Thomas Kretschmer, had previously extended the invitation once again at the plenary assembly.

This year, the 37. The Catholic Church will hold its second German Protestant Church Congress in Dortmund; an ecumenical church congress of Catholics and Protestants is planned for 2021 in Frankfurt.

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Christina Cherry
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