Founded as "Bund Neudeutschland" in 1919, the goal of the ND has always been a Christian, democratic society. 100 years later, this is still the order of the day in the face of growing populism.
The Catholic ND association celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Founded in 1919 as "Bund Neudeutschland" by Jesuits as a student association, it is now a network of about 4.000 Christians, including renowned publicists, politicians, theologians and bishops. Its goal is to bring together faith, church and world and to formulate contemporary positions on topics such as the family, climate change, neuroscience, euthanasia and digitization
Founded after the First World War
Founded shortly after World War I at the suggestion of Cologne Cardinal Felix von Hartmann. The name "Neudeutschland" was intended to express the desire to contribute to a new, better, Christian Germany. For many years there was the ND student community, which lives on today in the Catholic Student Youth KSJ. And from the all-boys and all-male federation the Community of Catholic Men and Women was founded.
Looking back on the changing history of the Federation is part of the jubilee year, emphasizes director Claudia Lucking-Michel. For he who does not know from which past he comes, does not know on which foundation his present is built. Then the orientation for the future would be missing, according to the vice president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).
ND suffers with church
So looking ahead is at least as important. ND members have enough ies to deal with within their church: a shortage of priests and priest-centrism, the role of the laity and discrimination against women, sexual ethics and debates on ecumenism. And, of course, the abuse scandal that caused the image and acceptance of the church to plummet.
The ND-ers are not only suffering from the repercussions, they are suffering from their church – "and all the more so because we still love it – with the courage of the desperate," Lucking-Michel said. The federation regards it as its strength to have always advanced courageously in the course of the history "from pious faith hope", without always having waited for permission of the official church.
For services without priests
Thus the federation wants to let develop for instance, where large parishes merge and priest shortage prevails, locally "social-pastoral food areas" – inclusive services also without priest. ND pleads for joint ecumenical celebrations according to the so-called Lima liturgy, even if the official church still has difficulties with it. The liturgical form was first used in 1982 at the World Council of Churches (WCC) assembly in Lima, Peru.
There, the WCC had adopted a declaration of convergence on faith, the Lord's Supper and ministry.
Homosexuality created by God
The Federation values homosexuality as created by God and stands up for gender justice. Being uncomfortable is part of ND. "We don't let anyone deny our being a church, but we live in the realm of the possible and not just the permissible," is how Lucking-Michel puts it.
This also applies to the work in the society. Even at the time of its founding 100 years ago, taking political responsibility was part of the equation. Today this is again the case in view of the strengthening of right-wing and populist currents. "Democracy needs convinced democrats," Lucking-Michel is certain. "Otherwise it will simply be gone at some point."
Future in view
Big plans for a small federation that is also slowly losing members, lacks new blood and is crumbling in popularity? Lucking-Michel sees this pragmatically. The association is a means to an end, not an end in itself. In the future, it will be a matter of counteracting nationalism and a centering on German interests. The goal is a united and peaceful Europe. In addition, there is a need for responsibility for the poorest, for refugees – in Germany, in Europe and behind the external borders of the EU.
It is about nothing less than building a global community of solidarity for a fairer, more peaceful and better future, says Lucking-Michel. "I am convinced that ND still has a lot of plans."