Conversations about god, the world and men's socks

Conversations about god, the world and men's socks

Anything but cold coffee – that could be the slogan of the coffee mobile offering caffeinated hot drinks at the synodal assembly in Frankfurt. To a cup with bishops and lay people.

The first have already at shortly after nine on this Friday morning the coffee on. The "power play" of some big-headed people is annoying, as one says, following the proceedings in the Great Hall of Frankfurt's Dominican Monastery. The first synodal assembly on the future of the Catholic Church in Germany is taking place in the Protestant conference center. Until Saturday, some 230 bishops and lay people will discuss for the first time where the two-year initiative is headed.

Immediately in front of the hall are three who have already come a long way: Ruben Enxing, Josephine Metasch and Johannes Polk have come to Frankfurt from the diocese of Dresden-Meissen – with their "Cafe Hoffnung Mobil.". The vehicle, sponsored by the Catholic Academy in Dresden, is usually on the road at marketplaces, schools or companies and evening events in the diocese to offer a place to meet and talk about interreligious dialog.

Mobile coffee bar during the conference break

For the first synodal assembly, the mobile coffee bar stops off at the Main instead of the Elbe. The reform dialogue, initiated by the German Bishops' Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), had to overcome some hurdles. It was no different at the "Cafe Hoffnung Mobil", as Ruben Enxing recounts. The solid coffee tricycle weighs around 400 kilos, including the attachment. To get it to the second floor of the Dominican Monastery outside the boardroom, it had to be dismantled. It did not fit in the elevator.

The first break in the conference shows: It was worth the effort. Delegates, media representatives and guests crowd around the red mobile and the stands behind it, which greet visitors with the slogan: "Get out of your comfort zone."This sounds a bit like the quintessence of the official announcements at the beginning of the synodal assembly: the participants were asked to listen to each other, not to condemn other opinions right away, to be ready for a change of perspective.

Stuff for 1.100 coffee portions

The Bishop of Copenhagen, Czeslaw Kozon, ZdK Vice-President Karin Kortmann and Brother Thomas Wierling of the Canisian Order: the queue in front of the coffee bar quickly got longer and longer. It steams and hisses, journalists chat with Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. And Josephine Metasch and Johannes Polk work at piecework. Stuff for 1.They brought 100 coffee portions, nine specialties are in the program, cappuccino is going quite well at the moment. "And espresso for the really tough ones," says Josephine Metasch.

Meanwhile, Ruben Enxing inquires about the first impressions of the synod members. The whole thing seemed to her like a kind of "giant brainstorming session," says Isabella Vergata. The German-born Italian takes part in the synodal assembly on behalf of Catholics of other mother tongues. In the Great Hall of the Dominican Monastery, because of the alphabetical seating arrangement, she sits not far from Regensburg Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, who once again expresses his reservations about the Synodal Way at the opening ceremony.

Talks about content – and about men's socks

"I didn't know that one at all," says Isabella Vergata. "In conversations, I've been told, 'This is not a progressive.'" She herself experienced Voderholzers Einlangen as unhelpful, but does not think much of categories like "conservative" or "progressive" nevertheless. "Traditions," says the 34-year-old, "are important. But they become dangerous when they have nothing more to do with everyday life."

By her own admission, she was moved by the statements of the younger participants. On the other hand, it attests to the preparatory documents a partly "highly theological language. Isabella Vergata completes doctorate on female writing in the 16th century. Century. Reading the paper on sexual morality also made her wonder if "we are in the Middle Ages".

A little later, the meeting continues, the square around the "Cafe Hoffnung Mobil" empties out. A group is still talking shop about fashionable men's socks. At the coffee bar not only weighty church matter is negotiated. By the way, the caffeine intake is free. "Costs only a smile," says Ruben Enxing.

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