2012-05-16 Vatican Radio
The German Church is holding its bi-annual meeting, more commonly known as
, in Mannheim, with over 30 thousand participants and guests assembled to discuss, to worship, to celebrate and to share the current state of the Church in Pope Benedict XVI’s homeland. From Mannheim, Father Bernd Hagenkord S.J. reports.
The book containing all the events of this „Katholikentag“ is nearly 600 pages long, all 1.200 events show the breadth and length of the catholic Church in Germany. There are lectures and discussions, there are presentations and new initiatives, and as during every „Katholikentag“ the city is strewn with white tents, every one of them containing an initiative, parish, diocese, association, or other catholic organization. Ecumenism, mission, parish organization, moral theology, music, social responsibility: There seems to be no topic not represented here. The whole four day meeting is framed by liturgies and prayer-services.
A particular focus this year is local Church. For lack of money, of priests many parishes have had to be merged with other parishes, creating administrative units rather than living communities. So the focus is on how to make this work and how to bring to life this changing structure with new initiatives or ideas.
This meeting of Catholics shows the signs of the times. Alois Gluck, president of the German Catholics lay council which organizes the „Katholikentag“, comments during a press conference on the character of the event. It shows the signs of the times to the church as well as the contribution the Church can make to the society. The event wants to inspire all those coming here.
This seems to be a rather necessary thing, since the Church perceives itself as being in crisis. After the sex-abuse scandals and the loss of significant numbers of Catholics, many perceive the church as being stale or numb, without answers to today’s crisis or challenges. Therefore the title of the meeting is „Aufbruch“ – meaning departure as well as new start. The Church – hierarchy as well as laity – want to find a way out of what Alois Gluck called the inner blockade in many questions. The price to pay is to give up a lot of much-loved customs or structures. However, this is necessary to move the Church forward. How to do this: to discuss that is what this Katholikentag is for.