Cardinal Karl Lehmann © Fredrik von Erichsen
Cardinal Karl Lehmann (l.) and ex-ZDF director Markus Schachter in 2007 © Arne Dedert
Former ZDF director Markus Schachter describes Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, with whom he has now published an interview book, as a special person who "likes to laugh loudly" – shortly before Cardinal Lehmann's 80th birthday. Birthday.
Interviewer: They sat down intensively with Cardinal Lehmann for the book's. What impression did you get? What kind of person is the bishop of Mainz?
Markus Schachter (former director of ZDF): A special person, a kind one, one who laughs loudly and with pleasure. For the church itself, he is a stroke of luck with staying power who, as a great communicator, with patience, persistence and tenacity, has always established a thread of conversation between church and society on the one hand, between faith and science on the other, and also between the opponents within the church, of whom there were very many. He has also spun a thread of conversation between ecumenical factions within the church. He is one who has always made an offer for dialogue. That makes him unique and special.
Interviewer: He is in poor health, can only walk with great difficulty. How will things continue in retirement for Cardinal Lehmann?? How did you experience him now?
Schachter: That's quite a problem for a man who has been a man bursting with health for the past 75 years. He can only walk with supports. The bishop's crozier is no support for him in the figurative sense. He has had two knee surgeries that have not healed very well, if I am evaluating this correctly. So he goes very, very hard.
Interviewer: They also talked with him about the future of the church and about Pope Francis, among other things. What does Karl Lehmann think?
Schachter: As for the future of the church in what is certainly a difficult situation, Cardinal Lehmann already has a special idea. The most important center of strength in the future will be the credibly lived, everyday existence of the people, as Cardinal Lehmann himself puts it. The emphasis is on credibility. In addition to the lived testimony of as many people as possible, there is also the hopeful view of the universal church with its formative power. And Pope Francis, as a charismatic and credible personality, is the figure who lives the Christian faith in an exemplary way and makes the faith attractive for many people with the idea of a serving church and can thus set the course for the future. In this situation, says Lehmann, Francis is a gift. In Lehmann's view, other sources of strength will again be the religious orders and the spiritual movements. He is convinced that an awakening will also come emphatically from religious of both sexes. Orders, which have already arisen in the past, when Christianity was looking for a new, a radical way. Cardinal Lehmann also sees this as a special perspective.
Interviewer: At the moment, a statement from your interview book is also going through the press: Cardinal Lehmann speaks out in favor of the ordination of married people and family fathers to the priesthood. Can you just say that?
Schachter: You can say that because this has been the case for some time now. He means the so-called viri probati – an expression I had to learn first -, that is, the experienced men who are fit for the priesthood. He proposed these decades ago, but there was a lack of courage in the European churches, where the bishops' conferences could perhaps have been more proactive themselves. Now he says that so much has already been lost in the priest-poor or priestless era, and that it is now time to finally gain ground.
Interviewer: And Cardinal Lehmann is a fan of Jurgen Klopp and Mainz 05. Mainz I can still understand, as bishop of Mainz, but why Klopp?
Schachter: Yes, that is a special friendship and if you will, an ecumenical friendship of the heart. Karl Lehmann was himself a very enthusiastic soccer player. So it was not out of the question that the two most prominent people from Mainz, the bishop and the soccer coach, meet and become friends. They often sat together over coffee in the bishop's house and talked to each other about God and the world and top-level soccer. Cardinal Lehmann was particularly curious about the way soccer is lived in this professional era. And Jurgen Klopp was always interested in questions of ecumenism. Cardinal Lehmann is convinced that Jurgen Klopp is a very intense Christian who lives his Christian ideals. Jurgen Klopp has invited him now once again to Liverpool. Whether he can do that with his knees, I don't know. But it is an indication of a living friendship.
The interview was conducted by Verena Troster.