God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

24.09.2009 Bishops worried

German Bishops are worried about the increasing numbers of people leaving formally the church, so I read in the news today. And I wonder how the bishops discuss that matter. Do they, as people usually do, search for the blame by the people leaving or do they start soul searching with themselves to find out, what is going wrong in our days. The right-wing Pius brotherhood has a simple solution: Only the way back to the good old times will prevent more people leaving the church – not sure how they really can think like that.  One must be very ignorant to the reality of today and totally living in the past with closed eyes to come to that conclusion. I am sure our bishops are different – and if they really would go out and ask the people why they are leaving the church, one answer will come up more frequently in my opinion:

That church is losing its relevance for the people of our days, that the sermons in church do not match the living circumstances in our days, the announcements of episcopal nature are not matched with how people experiencing church and the representatives of the church in their daily lives. Sunday sermons are followed by Monday blues – power games instead of servants of the faithful – people feel hurt and alienated from us clergy. Obviously we never can generalize it – but in this context the personal experience, the personal encounter is the decisive test for a single faithful. Mess it up and you have lost a soul, so to speak. And there is still the scandal of sexual abuse, the loss of moral stance through the encyclical “humanae vitae”, the dealing with the  Pius brotherhood – so many topics were my church in our days cannot gain points on the score card.

As we accompany people through the times, I guess we always have to reflect on our attitude as professional staff of the church, we always have to ask what is coming first, God’s message of love or church discipline. We might make general rules in the church, but we always have to see the individual standing before God. Not more and not less…

If we do so, maybe people still will leave the church, be it because they found other ways of finding God, may it that the path of the church community is not fast enough for the individual, may it that they even don’t need a church institution anymore because of their direct contact possibilities with God. Whatever it might be – our goal as the Catholic Church should be to serve all good people to be able to connect to God. And when we look into the field of HIV and AIDS, there is even more the need just to bring home the love of God, the unconditional love of God.  Forget about judgement, forget about exclusion – just embrace the person as he or she is – he or she deserves it because he or she is a brother or sister of me and a son or a daughter of God. Embrace the person, make him or her feel home and loved and wanted…

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