Christians in Germany celebrated Christmas under the impact of the Corona pandemic. In many places, public church services had been canceled altogether or attendance severely limited because of high levels of infection.
Dioceses, regional churches and parishes instead invited people to online services to commemorate the birth of Jesus. In their Christmas sermons, many bishops called for social cohesion.
For the first time in the history of German television, the top representatives of the two major churches addressed viewers on Christmas Eve after the ARD daytime news program with an ecumenical word on the Corona crisis. In the statement, the president of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, and the president of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, encouraged citizens to take the crisis as an "invitation to live consciously" and as a "call to a new togetherness". It is important to be considerate of each other even in these days and thus protect human life.
Batzing sharply criticized the treatment of refugees on Christmas Day. It is "truly a shame for Europe" that a common asylum policy cannot be found "as the only correct response to global migration," the Limburg bishop said. Because of the high profile of the pandemic, "the refugee drama is again in the shadows in the midst of the free and prosperous world".
Marx: "God is there"
Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx stressed that God is present, especially in the time of Corona. "He is there: in the intensive care units and in the nursing homes, he is at home with the homeless, with those on the run and with the children on the island of Lesbos," said the former president of the bishops' conference.
Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen called for more honesty in politics and society. "When people repeatedly pass off untruths as truths and thus try to construct realities with false words, this often has fatal consequences."
Neymeyr: Christmas turning point in the pandemic
Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of Erfurt described this year's Christmas as a possible turning point in the pandemic. This year, he said, it is "a celebration for all people of hope that the dark days of the coronavirus threat and infection control measures will soon come to an end, that the peak of the pandemic has been reached and the threat will diminish and even disappear altogether".
In Hanover, Catholic Bishop Heiner Wilmer and Protestant Bishop Ralf Meister celebrated a Christmas service in the cult restaurant "Klickmuhle". In the recording released on Youtube on Christmas Eve, they referred to the concerns and needs of the population in the Corona crisis.
Kohlgraf and the "last Christians"
The Bishop of Mainz, Peter Kohlgraf, called on Christians in Germany to reflect more strongly on the roots of their faith. Otherwise, there is a possibility that they would become the "last Christians" in this country, Kohlgraf said on Boxing Day.
Cologne's Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said Christmas reminds of God's connectedness with people. In a personal word, Woelki also comments on the behavior of the archdiocese in dealing with cases of abuse during the Christmas mass in Cologne Cathedral. He asks for forgiveness for "what those affected by sexual violence and you had to endure in the last days and weeks before Christmas in connection with the handling of the expert opinion on coming to terms with sexual violence in our archdiocese, what they had to endure in terms of criticism about it and especially also in terms of criticism of me personally".
Berlin archbishop already thinking about Easter at Christmas
Berlin Archbishop Heiner Koch apparently still expects restrictions on Easter services next year because of the Corona pandemic. Koch told rbb television on Friday evening that he doubted that people would very soon be celebrating communal and lively church services again. Therefore one prepares oneself for it "that it will probably run also at Easter still limited".
However, for the feast of the resurrection of Jesus, the churches could fall back on the experiences from the time of the feast of the birth of Jesus – for example, regarding the requirements and hygiene regulations for church services. Many parishes also broadcast services on the Internet. In online services, "a good routine and professionalism is growing". Although digital offers lack the community experience, they are not a "one-way street". He gets a lot of feedback with suggestions and ideas – "it's more lively than I thought," Koch said.
Bishop Meier at ordination of deacons: Church must be partisan
Augsburg Bishop Bertram Meier ordained two men as permanent deacons on Boxing Day. At the celebration in Augsburg Cathedral, the bishop said, "If we as a church do not want to betray the message of Jesus handed down in the Gospel, we must be partisan, that is, stand by the side of those in need."
The Corona crisis makes this mission even more urgent, because: "Conspiracy theorists and trivializers, but also dramatizers and prophets of doom are increasingly looking for their stage and find it – not only among the so-called unconventional thinkers in society, but also inside the church."
Genn grateful for vaccine
Bishop Felix Genn of Munster has urged Corona critics to be more level-headed in the debate about the Covid 19 pandemic and the
Newly developed vaccines urged. "I am grateful, for all the controversy, that we humans are capable of something like
to develop a vaccine," Genn said in Munster on Christmas Day. "We share in God's authority of creation. Clever and
we may be thankful."