Building bridges to continents and the poor

Thanksgiving services for the new pope took place in several dioceses on Sunday. An overview.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch has called on Christians to be encouraged by Pope Francis and to publicly confess the faith. Then, he said, "the election of the cardinal from Argentina will not be the only surprise that shakes us up". The president of the German Bishops' Conference and Archbishop of Freiburg said on Sunday at a thanksgiving service in Freiburg Cathedral. With prayers and trust in God, Christians are able to "contribute to the renewal of the church as it is needed by us today, in our time".

According to Zollitsch, the Pope is a "sign of the community and an instrument of unity". He had the task "as a pontiff, as a bridge builder, to connect, to strengthen the togetherness and to keep the unity in diversity alive."The archbishop is convinced that Pope Francis brings with him many experiences that will be helpful in his task: "It is the bridge across the Atlantic, to the more distant continents, that he will build. It is the bridge to the poor and needy, which he has already trodden as archbishop in Buenos Aires. It is the bridge of credible and humble appearance that he built at the very beginning of his public ministry."

Zollitsch expressed himself impressed by the courage expressed by Pope Francis in choosing his name: "Francis – that is more than a name. This is also connected with a program."St. Francis of Assisi was radically serious about following Christ "at a time when many in our Church had become more and more distant from Jesus Christ through power games and politics.".

Archbishop Schick: A breath of fresh air
Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick expects a fresh wind in the church from the new pope. "The ship of Peter, which – thank God – has become an ocean liner, will become faster and more dynamic," Schick said in Bamberg Cathedral. For the first time, the Catholic Church is led by a pope whose homeland is in the southern half of the globe. "The poor of the South, the hungry, the exploited, the enslaved, come to the center of the world. We can expect more global justice and more solidarity, which will do us all good."

Tebartz-van Elst: Pope's election shows church as universal church
According to Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the election of a South American as pope shows "how much our church has become a universal church". This is accompanied by a "salutary relativization of too strong German and Eurocentric fixations," Tebartz-van Elst said Sunday at a thanksgiving service in Limburg.

Pope Francis was confronted with great social challenges in his homeland in South America and, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, identified with them. In the pilgrimage church there, the most impressive of the murals shows how the saint supports the church, the Limburg bishop said: "This is Peter's ministry! This is how Pope Benedict XVI described him. lived and understood, and Pope Francis sees himself in this vocation."Apostolic service in continuity and authenticity consists in serving the whole of the Church with one's own charism.

Tebartz-van Elst also emphasized that with his choice of name, the pope has set a path that he wants to follow with the church. St. Francis knew how to build the Church from within at a time of great political upheaval and social change. This is also the vocation and mission of the new Pope.

Archbishop Schick: Pope will bring a breath of fresh air
Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg expects a fresh wind in the church from the new pope. "The ship of Peter, which "thank God" has become an ocean liner, will become faster and more dynamic," Schick said Sunday in Bamberg Cathedral at a thanksgiving service for Francis' election.

For the first time, the Catholic Church is led by a pope whose homeland is in the southern half of the globe, the archbishop explained. "The poor of the South, the hungry, the exploited, the enslaved come to the center of the world. We can expect more global justice and more solidarity, which will do us all good."Francis has shown with his choice of name that he stands for a poor church, which is there for the poor. In addition, his name stands for the will for peace, understanding between religions and the preservation of creation.

Schick said he had met the current pontiff at a synod of bishops in 2001 and was convinced: "He is a good pope."With him, modesty and decisiveness complemented each other.

Archbishop Thissen: Worldwide injustice cries out to heaven
Hamburg Archbishop Werner Thissen has accused Europeans of living at the expense of the poor. The lifestyle of the people in Europe and in the countries of the North leads "to the fact that we break the earth and that we harm the poor". In an interview with Deutsche Welle on Sunday, Thissen went on to say that the unjust distribution of goods on earth "cries out to heaven. And this cry we must hear."

This also means a request to the Catholic Church in Germany, the archbishop warned. It must share its goods more with those who have less, he said: "In Germany, too, we must and want to be a church at the side of the poor." Thissen referred to the commitment of the Episcopal Relief Organization Misereor, for which he is responsible within the Catholic German Bishops' Conference.

Catholic services over the weekend collected for Catholic Relief Services projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The 2013 Lenten campaign's motto is "We're fed up with hunger!". Misereor is one of the largest development organizations in the world. In the more than 50 years of its existence, the relief organization has supported more than 100.000 projects with around six billion euros.

At the same time, Thissen expressed skepticism that the new Pope Francis would take up concrete demands from Germany and Europe for changes in sexual morality and the priestly obligation of celibacy. It will be learned that these problems would not be in the foreground worldwide. "In the foreground must be the question of justice," said the archbishop. He's counting on the pope to address this ie of justice and push for change to lift people out of poverty and dependency, he said.

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