Encouragement behind barbed wire?

Encouragement behind barbed wire?

"Being pastorally present where it is difficult": Bavaria's bishops want to provide pastoral care to Christian refugees in anchor centers. They also advocate more lay involvement and tougher guidelines in abuse cases.

The Catholic Office of Bavaria had been commissioned, together with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to hold talks with the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior. The president of the Freising Bishops' Conference, Reinhard Cardinal Marx, said Thursday in Munich at the conclusion of the fall plenary session.

The pastoral offer is to be made deliberately ecumenical, Marx stressed. "We want to be pastorally present in places where it is difficult."Marx hopes that the new state government will shape integration and that those who integrate well will be able to stay.

Church's position on refugee policy had not changed after election. In addition, every government that sets out on its path "will be accompanied by us in prayer," the cardinal said.

Cooperate with prosecutors in abuse cases

Further, Catholic dioceses naturally want to cooperate with prosecutors on abuse ies. All bishops agree on this, said Reinhard Cardinal Marx on Thursday in Munich at the end of the autumn plenary session of the Freising Bishops' Conference.

The background is a complaint filed by professors with several public prosecutor's offices in Germany against unknown persons as a result of the "Study on sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the area of the German Bishops' Conference" published in September.

With regard to the topic of abuse, there has been a "growing development of knowledge in church and society" over the years. For example, he said, the guidelines adopted by the German Bishops' Conference in 2002 were tightened again in 2010 and are more oriented toward the victims.

For the German Bishops' Conference, of which the Munich cardinal is also chairman, further questions arose in the near future. For example, it must be clarified what "coming to terms with the past" means, also with regard to the victims, and whether it is sufficient to look at the files or whether more needs to be done.

Another point is independence, Marx explained. For observers wanted to know from the church: "Can we still believe you??"The cardinal admitted that he does not yet know what measures need to be taken in this regard.

Intensify exchange with laity

Furthermore, the Bavarian Catholic bishops want to intensify the exchange with the laity. "We would like to see critical accompaniment of the laity," Marx explained. Without strong and trusting cooperation with them, the current crisis in the church and the challenges ahead cannot be overcome.

In matters of church finances, for example, the bishops were open to letting lay people participate in how money from the common pot of the seven Bavarian dioceses, the so-called supra-diocesan fund (uDF), is distributed. This currently amounts to 42 million euros, with the money going primarily to the Catholic University of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, the Catholic Academy in Bavaria and the Catholic Foundation University of Applied Sciences.

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