Religion: Bishop Bätzing believes there is a chance for reform of the Church

Religion: Bishop Bätzing believes there is a chance for reform of the Church

At the German Catholic Day in Erfurt, believers turn their attention to internal church and political issues and to the sky – because of the weather.

Despite resistance in the Vatican, the Catholic bishops still see a chance for reforms in the church in Germany. This includes the participation of lay people and the ordination of women as deacons, said the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, at the German Catholic Convention in Erfurt. The topic there was again the demarcation against the AfD. At the same time, the organizers were worried about the heavy rain and the very bad weather forecast.

The 103rd German Catholic Congress opened on Wednesday evening. It runs until Sunday, and the organizers are expecting at least 20,000 participants. For the Catholics, the reforms of their church were once again at the top of the agenda – a discussion between Bishop Bätzing and the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Irme Stetter-Karp, was overcrowded on Thursday afternoon.

Bätzing said that he expected that the Catholic Church could also have female deacons. “But please don’t tie me down to a time frame.” In a recent interview, Pope Francis answered the question of whether a Catholic girl would ever have the opportunity to become an ordained deacon in the negative. Bätzing said, however, that he had often heard the Pope say something different. Germany would not rush ahead with the ordination of women. “Then the break occurred,” said the Bishop of Limburg. “Unfortunately, we experienced that 500 years ago.”

Stetter-Karp again called for the reforms to be speeded up. “We need a church that is attractive, that people feel attracted to,” said the head of the lay association. In the context of the abuse scandal, an incredible amount of trust has been lost. Stetter-Karp cited survey results that 96 percent of Catholics in Germany urgently want reforms. And she described her frustration at the lack of progress in the Synodal Way reform process. But she also said: “I probably wouldn’t be a Christian or could not call myself one if I couldn’t believe in change.”

Much criticism of the process for dealing with abuse

How difficult it is for the Catholic Church to change was also shown by a well-attended panel discussion on dealing with sexual violence in the church at the Catholic Day. There, canon lawyer Thomas Schüller criticized the lack of transparency in the work of the Independent Commission for Recognition Services (UKA) of the Bishops’ Conference. The commission is responsible for the voluntary payments made by the Catholic Church in Germany to victims of abuse.

The spokesman for the affected people’s initiative “Eckiger Tisch”, Matthias Katsch, criticized the fact that dioceses did not pay the recognition payments from a common budget. Rich dioceses would thus support poorer ones in solidarity. The amount paid out to those affected would not depend on the financial possibilities of the respective diocese.

Ramelow against AfD on podiums

During a rainy visit to the Church Mile on the Cathedral Square, Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Left Party) welcomed the organizers’ line of not inviting the AfD to discussions. “It’s always the case that they play the victim role there,” said Ramelow about AfD politicians. “They use every invitation to dialogue to make it clear to everyone else afterwards that they are the victims. And the Catholic Day is obviously not interested in such an experimental arrangement.”

The Catholic Congress announced weeks ago that it had decided not to invite the AfD to podiums. Erfurt Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr defended this decision once again at the start. At the service for the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi, Neymeyr stressed: “We urgently need a commitment to justice and peace, both in society and in politics.”

The political situation in other countries is also of interest at the believers’ meeting, which runs until Sunday. Human rights activist Irina Scherbakova is a guest at various events. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and co-founder of the Russian human rights organization Memorial referred to the situation in her home country and warned of the dangers to a free society when people lose faith in reliable institutions.

Worried look at the weather

The organizers were concerned about the weather forecast for the next few days. According to the German Weather Service in Erfurt, persistent rainfall is expected to be accompanied by heavy rain and thunderstorms over the weekend. The organization’s management is in constant contact with the DWD, said a ZdK spokeswoman. As soon as a threatening situation becomes known, they will react. If necessary, open-air events will have to be canceled or postponed. However, this has not happened yet. Participants received the relevant information via the Catholic Day app.

Source: Stern

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