The visit by Pope Benedict to Germany (22nd-25th September 2011)
Press Release Berlin / Erfurt / Freiburg /
Munich, 18th September 2011
“God’s crisis and the Church crisis must not be played off against each other!” is the demand by the Church People’s Movement Wir sind Kirche (“We are Church”) on the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s journey to Germany from the 22nd to the 25th September 2011, when he makes his first official visit to his home country. The motto “Where God is, there is the future” places the question of God at the centre. But the pressing problems and defects of the Church cannot and must not be cut out of the picture like this. For it is the structures of the Church themselves that more and more block the way into the Church for people who are looking for God, and who want to practise their faith within the fellowship of the Church.This visit to Germany by Pope Benedict XVI takes place during the greatest worldwide crisis of the Roman Catholic Church since the Reformation. As the statistics for the year 2010, only recently presented by the Bishops’ Conference, show: Never before in the history of the German Federal Republic has the number of Catholic women and men fallen so fast – even though this Pope comes from Germany and places the emphasis of his pontificate in Europe.In view of pastoral problems that are becoming more and more acute. not only in Germany but throughout the world, the Roman Catholic Church cannot and must not afford to deny itself reforms that are long overdue, declares the Catholic reform movement Wir sind Kirche, which is networked all over the world. The journey to constructive dialogue about the future of the Church must now begin at last, in the way that the Second Vatican Council, now almost 50 years in the past, pointed out and decided.The Papal visit to Germany does not meet with approval everywhere. Above all his speech to the German Bundestag (parliament) and the meeting with the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court at the Freiburg Seminary bring up the question of the legal position of the Papacy and its right to power in its three politically and religiously essential roles: as representative of the “Holy See”, as Head of State of the mini-state of the Vatican City, and as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
Wir sind Kirche has challenged the political representatives of the German people to bring up human rights in the Church in their meetings with Pope Benedict XVI – as for example the German Chancellor did in China. It is a continuing scandal that the “Holy See” or Vatican City is among the very few entities in international law that have still not signed up to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
In an open letter to the Churches of the Reformation (PDF in German), Wir sind Kirche supports the proposal that they should finally be recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as Churches in the full sense. The declaration “Dominus Jesus” (for which Joseph Ratzinger was responsible in 2000 as the then Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, and which he confirmed in 2007 as Pope) must be revised. The issue of fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, above all for married couples who link different denominations, requires rapid clarification.
Wir sind Kirche also sees the Pope’s meeting with the Judges of the Federal Constitutional Court at the Freiburg Seminary as dubious. The Vatican, which is very dependent upon finance from the German Church, sees the German relationship between the state and the Church and the high privileges that it grants to Churches as endangered by general social changes, but particularly by secularising tendencies in German political parties and by some European Union countries.The “Messages to the Pope” collected by the Church People’s Movement will be handed over on Tuesday, 20th September 2011 (in a meeting not open to the Press) to the Apostolic Nuncio in Berlin.The central event of Church reform groups on Wednesday, 21st September in Berlin, with among others Karin Kortmann (Vice-President of the Central Committee of German Catholics) and Professor Dr Hermann Häring (theologian, co-worker with Dr Küng and papal expert) has the title: “We are (not) Pope! Critical questions on the visit by Benedict XVI.”Events and activities of Church reform groups in various German cities:> www.wir-sind-kirche.de/index.php?id=603#VERANSTALTUNGENBackground information on the Papal visit in various languages:englisch / español / française / italiano / polski> www.wir-sind-kirche.de/index.php?id=129&id_entry=3529Wir sind Kirche press conferences and press contacts on the Papal visit : > www.wir-sind-kirche.de/index.php?id=128&id_entry=3563Translation: RD