“We must also think the unthinkable”

Thoughtful: Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

Everything put to the test? Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck has called for a debate on fundamental ies of the church. Topics such as the image of the priest and ordination, hierarchy, celibacy, women's ministry and sexual morality should no longer be made taboo.

This is what Overbeck said at this Tuesday's New Year's Mass in Essen Cathedral. It's about fundamental problems and challenges. "We are experiencing a turning point in time," says Essen bishop.

Renewal of the Church

"There are no longer these taboos, nor questions that must not be asked," clarified the bishop. There is an urgent need now for a renewal of the church. Overbeck appealed to the faithful and those responsible in the Church to be mindful of each other in difficult times. Conflicts should be dealt with in a "Christian way," Overbeck said, also with a view to the process of change in the Ruhr bishopric.

Overbeck warned not to destroy the foundations of the church in the face of all the necessary transformations. Quite a few people, he said, have an understandable concern that "the prere of the current crisis could lead to too much reform and our Church could develop in the wrong direction, away from its origins and the profound insights that have grown through tradition, which are, after all, permanent".

In addition, the Essen bishop pointed to encouraging things in the course of the "future image processes" in the diocese. For example, courage is growing in parishes to try out new ways of Christian living.

Unthinkable thinking

Overbeck specifically highlighted lay burials and blessing ceremonies for newborns. Especially also in relation to the image and office of priests "sprout" something new. Given that there are currently still seven candidates for the priesthood in the diocese, the question must also continue to be asked as to how women could be involved "on an equal footing in the leadership tasks" of the church "if the ordination office is to remain impossible for them.". Overbeck called for thinking even the unthinkable. (CBA)

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Christina Cherry
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