Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx has warned against drawing the wrong conclusions from the decision to separate the Catholic Church from the Weltbild publishing group. This was "not a signal that we want to withdraw from the public," emphasized Marx on Wednesday in Munich. He said that the Church would have no future if it did not keep initiating new communications. The German Bishops' Conference now wants to set up a media ethics working group.
Cardinal Marx spoke at the farewell ceremony for the long-time director of the St. Michael's Association, Erich Joob (65). It would be "short-sighted to rely only on electronic media" and neglect the book, Marx said. Books are central to church education work and the acquisition of reading skills. Joob expressed concern about the future of the Catholic Church in Germany in his farewell speech. The temptation to "stew in one's own juice" is currently very great in the company. In order to maintain its social power, it must above all remain in dialogue with artists and literary figures. He learned from priests that being Catholic also means being comprehensive, spiritually broad and inviting, without forgetting one's own origins.
Media ethics working group
Regarding the discussion about Weltbild, Joob said he understands the anger. At the same time, he pointed out that the company was a "mass mailer" where the books ordered would not be touched again. What is annoying in the debate is "the unquestioned equation of eroticism with pornography". Here the church must pay attention to differentiation, he said.
As a first reaction to the debate about Weltbild, the German Bishops' Conference wants to set up a media ethics working group. The committee is to be made up of journalists, academics and media lawyers, and will support the Bishops' Conference's Journalism Commission, according to the commission's chairman, Rottenburg-Stuttgart Bishop Gebhard Furst. He expressed himself in an interview with the association magazine "AKSB-Inform". The Bishops' Conference is also planning a conference on media ethics.
Weltbild management does not expect sale until 2013
The sale of Weltbild Verlag is not expected to take place until 2013, according to Carel Halff, Chairman of the Weltbild Management Board. "Experts expect the process to take no less than 18 to 24 months for companies of this size," Halff told the "Augsburger Allgemeine" newspaper. "With sales of 1.7 billion euros a year, a sale doesn't happen that quickly."
Halff emphasized that the 6.400 employees would have no reason to fear for their jobs. He did not give any details about possible investors or buyers. The Catholic Church had decided to sell the publishing house. The publishing group is criticized within the church because it also sells erotic and esoteric literature. Halff said he could understand the church's decision to sell. The book business, as it is run today, cannot be completely reconciled with their basic attitude. The plenary assembly of the Association of German Dioceses (VDD) dealt with Weltbild GmbH in Wurzburg on Monday. The VDD holds 24.2 percent of the shares in the publishing group. The Weltbild publishing group emerged from the Catholic magazine publisher Winfried-Werk GmbH, founded in 1948.