“The good is not exciting”

Discussed with each other: Archbishop Stefan Hebe… © Elisabeth Schomaker (KNA)

…and Kiel's Lord Mayor Ulf Kampfer © Carsten Rehder

How merciful are we, for example, in dealing with the public failure of institutions or celebrities? This was the topic of a discussion evening with Hamburg's Archbishop Stefan Hebe and Kiel's Lord Mayor Ulf Kampfer.

How merciful can elongation conversations be? How many mistakes can top people allow themselves in times of virtual pillorying? Current ies, but usually only come into focus when there is a reason to do so. Answers were sought by Hamburg's Archbishop Stefan Hebe and Kiel's Lord Mayor Ulf Kampfer (SPD) on Wednesday evening at a panel discussion in Kiel's St. Heinrich Church.

The parish of St. Francis of Assisi, which crowned its "Weeks of Mercy" within the framework of the Holy Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis with the top-level meeting between "EB and OB" – as an onlooker in the crowded church quipped.

"The good is not exciting"

What it has brought at all, this year, moderator and daily newspaper journalist Kristian Blasel wanted to know: "When I watch news, I do not notice that mercy has become more."Hebe countered that there was a simple reason for this: "The good is not exciting."Nevertheless the idea of the pope made it up to the north to Kiel. The goal, he said, is for a decision to be made about the end of the year on 20. November the idea of the mercy to the act become and in the everyday life be converted.

"The pleasure in the failure of the other" was the subtitle of the evening – because mercy proves itself, after all, mostly in the face of mistakes: "It is not without reason that the heart is at the center of the word," said Kampfer. In an ideal world where laws always ensure justice, mercy would not be necessary at all, the social democrat and jurist said.

Church must perceive realities

It is precisely into these gray areas, which can always exist in human life, that the churches are now moving – this is how he understands the Pope's current guidelines on sexual morality, for example, said Hebe: "There are fixed poles, and the life of the individual moves between them." The church must accompany people and at the same time "perceive the realities", they said.

That top people in politics or the church must meet high expectations was fine with both Kampfer and Hebe. They discussed this in terms of two prominent cases of public failure: Franz-Peter Tebartz van Elst and Christian Wulff. While Hebe praised the clarification work of the media in the case of the former Limburg bishop, Kampfer also saw a "tragedy" and injustice in the case of the ex-Federal President.

Past mistakes

The church's handling of abuse was also addressed. In the past, big mistakes were made, things were covered up, said Hebe: "We have learned a lot, we have become better."Kampfer spoke of an institutional failure, but recalled that there had been similar bad cases in other institutions, such as the Odenwald School.

Overall, Kampfer noted that the "will to empathy" is declining. The Internet is also to blame for this, he says, making it easier to perceive only opinions that correspond to one's own. "Democracy is not a pony farm, conflict is fine – but there is a tendency toward non-communication that worries me."

Conspicuously absent were two names from Kiel's recent political past: Susanne Gaschke (SPD), Kampfer's predecessor as mayor, who stumbled over clumsy dealings with a tax evader, and ex-education minister Wara Wende (no party affiliation), who was accused of padding her way back from politics into academia too thickly financially. That both's public failure did not come up again was probably an act of mercy.

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