When it comes to faith and the personal relationship with God, there are many questions. We want to be at our site answer these questions, with the help of Cologne's auxiliary bishop Dr. Dominikus Schwaderlapp.
Interviewer: Let's start simply with a question: Why should we thank God?
Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp: Because everything we have comes from God: that we are there, as we are there, what is given to us every day – from the sunshine this morning, that I wake up, my personality, my I. I owe everything to God. And that's why every prayer in church begins with thanksgiving to God.
Interviewer: You are on the road a lot in the parishes, especially in the northern part of the archdiocese of Cologne. How often are you confronted with questions like this in your everyday life??
Auxiliary Bishop Schwaderlapp: That is quite different. It happens again and again when I have encounters with young people that they ask me holes in the belly. This happens especially when young people are in special situations. I like to think back to my visit to a correctional facility in Wuppertal. They asked me questions – it was a real faith conversation!
Interviewer: When you go to confirmations, what questions do the young people ask you??
Suffragan Bishop Schwaderlapp: At Confirmation itself, of course, they ask less. But some visit me before. I invite them to do that; groups come to me all the time. Interestingly, the first questions are about my personal biography: "Did you always want to be a priest?? How did you come to believe?" Which is always a question that moves young people: 'How can God allow suffering in the world'?" This is a question to which there is no easy answer. You just said I would answer all questions. There are, of course, questions I'd like to ask the good Lord sometime.
our siteThen there are practical questions like: "Why should I go to church on Sundays??"
Auxiliary Bishop Schwaderlapp: Sometimes I tempt young people with these questions and ask them: "Why is there such a commandment?? This is not there to annoy us and to get you out of bed or to fill the churches, but it is about a very personal relationship between Christ and you. And that Christ gives himself to you completely, you cannot do that to yourself either. That only happens at Mass, when bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ. He does it because he wants to be one with you." I also try to set such questions from myself.
Interviewer: How do the young people react then?
Auxiliary Bishop Schwaderlapp: It's sometimes hard for me to figure this out. You are already attentive and silent. I don't know then sometimes whether they have switched off or whether they are listening. Sometimes I get feedback from the catechists who are with me: when we were on the train afterwards, they told me that my question was good and right. Young people are often not in a position to give you feedback directly.
Interviewer: To what extent are you also confronted with questions about sexuality?? Do you have any fears of contact or are you okay with such questions??
Auxiliary Bishop Schwaderlapp: I am very pleased when such questions are asked. Because I believe that we as a church have a message to offer young people: namely that sexuality is a gift from God. It is a gift to pass on life and love and to handle it properly – that promotes love. It's about finding a path to happiness. Our message is there is not only a succession of laws, but it creates a path to happiness and love and ensures that you do not exploit each other.
Interviewer: It seems you have quite a bit of fun answering questions like these?
Auxiliary Bishop Schwaderlapp: Yes, I enjoy that. Now not only young people will ask me questions. Under the heading "Questions of Faith" on my homepage, adults also ask me their questions.
The interview was conducted by Matthias Friebe.