In the synodal way, "in the end, it is first of all a matter of forming an opinion of the church in Germany". Wurzburg Bishop Franz Jung urged patience in inner-church reform debates.
This is what Jung said on Sunday at the New Year's reception of the city of Wurzburg, according to the speech manuscript. "It is still open which decision-making latitude will be granted to individual local churches and how much regional diversity Catholic unity can tolerate, and whether there could be different speeds on the way to a renewed church."
Effort for factual discussion
The bishop stressed that the question also arises as to the extent to which the topics dealt with require further discussion and clarification by the world church. "This, too, will take time."The Synodal Way will also have to prove itself in that different opinions can and should have their say. It is important, he said, "to make an effort to conduct the discussion objectively and, above all, to maintain internal unity as far as possible. An exciting task".
After intensive wrangling, the German bishops had decided on a binding synodal path in spring 2019. The main ies to be addressed are power, sexual morality, the lifestyle of priests and the role of women in the church. With the cooperation of Catholic lay people and external experts, the bishops want to clarify their positions on these questions. The abuse scandal had plunged the church into a crisis of confidence, in which calls for reform grew louder.
Do not simply reject populist parties
Meanwhile, Bishop Jung does not see pure rejection as an effective remedy against the strengthening of parties such as the "Alternative for Germany". It is true that every brutalization of language and manners and every xenophobia and populist agitation must be resolutely stopped, he said at the New Year's reception. "But in the long run, that will not be enough."It is important to take the fears of broad sections of society seriously, the bishop said.
Established parties had not yet found a convincing answer to the inquiries of "the current globalization losers in an increasingly fragmenting middle class," the bishop continued. He warned against easy answers in climate protection policy. The question is whether the targeted changes can actually be achieved in a short time and in a socially acceptable way. Nor should the burden be shifted to other countries.
Importance of young people
Jung welcomed the fact that people were increasingly standing up for their interests again and not resigning themselves to grievances. "The experience that one can make a difference with resolute protest and convinced commitment to a good cause, the experience of self-efficacy, is an important asset in any community." One wants to actively shape society, the environment and the church. This applies explicitly to young people, the bishop said.
However, this is increasingly taking place outside the usual parliamentary framework. "They want to drive the political and church leaders before them," Jung explained. Perhaps they no longer trust the system. On the one hand, this is a question for the changing party landscape. On the other hand, he said, the question arises as to whether this is a good development overall, "or whether it should not rather be a matter of concern to articulate the protests via the democratically legitimized and defined decision-making channels and to feed them into the legislative processes.".