God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

09.10.2010 Durban

After one year Durban again.. the airport is new, the faces of the German-speaking Catholic Community are in the same way familiar and friendly. A talk about the current issues in the church. We talk about the dialogue of the Vatican with the ultra conservative quarters of the Pius brothers which also is causing division amongst ordinary Christians. While it seems that the intention to withdraw the excommunication was meant a welcoming act, the consequences are not that welcomed by many people. Instead of dialogue the right-wing Christian media specially of the internet launches one attack after the other – there is not much sympathy for those behaving like a fundamentalist Christian militia.
Ecumenical questions were another topic – and here it seems that meanwhile there is almost no understanding amongst the interested laity that our church still struggles with the topics of divorce or women ordination and certain question of sexuality. People seemed to have withdrawn a long time ago from the official stance of the church and I guess it is of critical importance that the church is listening to the frustration of the faithful and their practical decisions, made as a consequence of their conscience.
The child abuse cases were another topic and as much as there is no understanding for paedophile priests in active service, it was interesting for me to hear that there is a feeling that even after all the actions of bishops conferences there is still the feeling that too many of the hierarchy are still sitting in positions they should have left as a sign of responsibility. For many people, an apology is not enough. This German scandal, after the US and Ireland has indeed caused a major rift between the institution church and the faithful.
We have still a lot to work on before we can gain the trust again, we need to proclaim the gospel in fulness.

And as so often it is us, the ordinary priests, who have to defend actions, we ourself are seeing with a critical view. Sometimes it is difficult to be honest and loyal at the same time. All the happenings of the last month do certainly not help at all.

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06.09.2009 Ecumenical matters

This morning our German speaking Catholic Community will join the Lutheran St. Martini community by being a guest during their service. I have the honor to preach during the service and it is always a bit tricky. What really to say? That it is a scandal being separated since that long time? Everybody knows? That we would need each other and all our diversity to become the people of God? Also known. That it is in theological terms sinful to live separate church lives? That is does not help if Vatican documents describe the Lutheran church as a not complete church?

Times have been rough in the last years and the tendency to segregate instead to unify was leading us people on the grounds into a situation, where nobody with some knowledge about ecumenical questions would like to be. Being scared of each other is surely not the right base for understanding. And all the unctuous sermons of the church elite pasting over the cracks and gaps do not help either.

I am sure that God in his grace does not mind to hear Lutheran or Catholic prayers and that for him, it does not matter whether a man with stole or without is standing in front of the congregation. If rather matters to the so called church discipline, but not to God at all. If we would prevent the temptation to form a picture of God as a “super human” but leave him (even that is a presumption – him, her.. it all does not match – the Jews are right, not to name God) his (again the same problem) mystery.

For me ,such an encounter with the Lutheran brothers and sisters feels like a thorn in the flesh of our churches – and it is more than time to pull out this thorn.

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