Especially in the Corona crisis, ecumenism is a key. Bishop Heiner Wilmer is convinced of that. In the interview he talks about commemorating the dead and about what the church urgently needs to do right now.
Interviewer: The service will take the form of a celebration of light and will be livestreamed on the internet. How should the victims of Corona be remembered?
Heiner Wilmer (Bishop of Hildesheim): We will meet in the Mariendom in Hildesheim and create an ecumenical light celebration in a very small circle. The state bishop Ralf Meister from the Lutheran church and the prime minister Stephan Weil will be there. We will invite only 20 people, but the celebration will be broadcast to the country through the screens.
We will also invite representatives of the respective groups that care for the people suffering from Corona: Doctors and nurses from the medical practices, employees from the laboratories, aid and rescue services, policewomen, morticians, sextons, bus drivers, educators and teachers, people who stock the goods in the supermarkets and sit at the cash registers, and also young people who have made it their business to shop for and care for their elderly neighbors. So there will be very few in the cathedral.
Interviewer: On Sunday, Christ the King will be celebrated and also the Protestant Sunday of the Dead. How important it is that the commemoration is ecumenical?
Wilmer: Ecumenism is a key for us here. Personally, I am of the firm opinion that only ecumenism can help us here. It is a witness to our faith. Jesus tells us: "I want you to be one". It is precisely the need, precisely Covid-19 that forces us to stand together even stronger. You urge us to witness the Gospel even more strongly together and to stand up together. From my humble point of view, we can no longer afford a Christianity that is not ecumenical at all.
Interviewer: Representatives of professional groups that are particularly challenged in the pandemic will be invited. Is this also a way of saying thank you?
Wilmer: Our subtext is quite simple: the Church says thank you. As churches, we say thank you to the people who stand up and look away from themselves, who are with the people, with those affected, with those who are ill, and who have also accompanied people to their deaths. Some are now additionally taking care of the relatives. We want to say thank you to all these people, but also pray for those who have died. We want to remember the dead and also pray for the bereaved and be there for them. That is very important to us.
Interviewer: How do you personally feel about the situation now: is the church doing enough for those affected by the Corona crisis?
Wilmer: I believe that the church is on the way very massively. Above all, the Church is very much there in the home: with small actions, phone calls, visiting service, flowers, candles, mail, WhatsApp groups. These are all small scenes and scenarios. There is no microphone, no camera and no picture. A lot of things happen in secret.
I know so many wonderful young people who care for elders. I know so many women and men who are committed to the church, who are inventive and break new ground. I can only be very, very grateful to everyone. I think it's great how people here stand together to be there for each other, to stand in solidarity, both inside and outside the church. They see those who no one thinks about. Nevertheless, there is still too much loneliness, too much coldness. Our task is to provide more warmth in the country.
The interview was conducted by Michelle Olion.