“We have squeezed god into a box”

Bishop Heiner Wilmer © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

A "fixation on the Eucharist" is what Bishop Heiner Wilmer observes in the Corona crisis. There have been times in the history of Christianity when people have not been able to participate in masses or receive communion.

This is what the bishop of Hildesheim said on Sunday on Deutschlandfunk. "But that is not why the faith has collapsed.In view of empty churches, there is sometimes a mood "as if everything were collapsing". That is wrong, that is a narrow view," criticized the bishop.

Wilmer added that he was not a fan of too many church services being streamed in parallel. This shows "how impoverished we are," he said: it cannot be "that we are only fixated on the Eucharist". In addition, empty churches might give a foretaste of the future.

In principle, a "faith without reason" is suspect to him, the bishop added. It is critical, for example, when some believers interpret the corona virus as a divine message or attribute a medicinal effect to holy water. He finds it hard to bear when reality is taken too lightly "and then we arrive with holy water and practices that lack all reason".

Current events show that life is unpredictable, Wilmer stressed. "The truth is that we have rounded off the angular and angular in our faith. The truth is that we have squeezed God into a box, tied a round bow around it and think: we've got it, that's how he is," criticized the bishop. At the same time, God remains a mystery. "He is not someone whom we can appease with sacrifices, whom we can somehow magically dominate, whom we can push into a certain corner."

Church must get away from "monarchist tendencies

According to Hildesheim Bishop Heiner Wilmer, the church must overcome "monarchist tendencies". People are not interested in who has the power, but in who ties in with their experiences, he continued. He pleads for power control, which must be institutionally anchored.

In order to clarify cases of abuse in the church, expert groups are needed that do not come from the diocese concerned, Wilmer said further. They would have to be able to process files independently.

"The difficult thing about the topic of sexualized violence is that the entire church system is affected here," the bishop explained. The longer he deals with this ie, "the more I am gripped by anger and rage".

Cover-up of abuse was possible in the past because the Catholic Church considered itself autonomous in the legal field, Wilmer explained. "Sexual violence was considered a violation of the sixth commandment, but not a crime with relevance under state law." These incidents must be investigated, he said. It should not be about "the splendor of an institution" or the preservation of structures, but about justice.

On the debate over celibacy, Wilmer said patience is still needed for any relaxations. From his point of view, Pope Francis definitely wants further reflection and discussion. "Celibacy is not a dogma," the bishop stressed.

It said there were many reasons for celibacy, but it was not part of the church's treasure trove of faith.

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Christina Cherry
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