Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schonborn has called on Christians in Europe to make a high-profile commitment in an increasingly secular society. This is only possible if they do not "secularize" themselves, Schonborn stressed. "Especially in a secular society, a 'secularized' Christianity is uninteresting."A "de-worldized" church is better suited to be open to the world.
The suffragan bishop appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. The term "de-worldization," coined during his visit to Germany, does not mean "the withdrawal from all institutional, legal, social interconnections of the church with civil society and the state," Schonborn said. Rather, it is about "becoming free for the essence of Christianity, the Gospel and its meaning. The Viennese cardinal gave the guest speech at the federal political annual reception of the Catholic Church in Berlin on Wednesday evening.
At the same time, Schonborn noted that the social mainstream is moving in a different direction than Christianity in more and more areas. "Christianity is becoming more and more marginal."As examples he mentioned the prevailing attitude towards abortion, euthanasia, research on human embryos, equalization of homosexual partnerships with marriage or the attitude towards pre-implantation diagnostics. In protecting human life, the Church is not defending a "special confessional right," but a fundamental human right based on reason. Still, committed Christians increasingly experience themselves as a "minority" in Europe, cardinal says.
Right to physical integrity
On the circumcision debate, Schonborn said that in this case, apparently the right to bodily integrity has a higher plausibility in a secular society. At the same time he emphasized: "One wishes that the right to bodily integrity of the unborn child released for abortion would be defended with as much vehemence as the right to decide for oneself whether to have or not to have the foreskin."
With regard to the position of the believer in secular society, Schonborn recalled the words of philosopher Jurgen Habermas of "unacknowledged religious potentials of meaning" that should not be overlooked or suppressed in the liberal state. "Religious fellow citizens can bring them in," Schonborn says. "But for this to happen, they must be taken seriously."Conversely, religious people in the secular context are expected to make an effort to translate their content into the language of the secular world," he said.
Zollitsch: Situation of Christians in Syria is desperate
In Berlin, the president of the German Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, recalled the suffering of the civilian population in Syria. He acknowledged the expressions of solidarity from government and political parties, as well as the willingness to take in refugees if necessary. The special attention of the church is directed to Christians, "who are in a particularly desperate situation," said Zollitsch. He expressed the hope that the upcoming trip of Pope Benedict XVI. to Lebanon will contribute to the pacification of the region.
Zollitsch also welcomed the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on the euro bailout fund and the fiscal pact. He understands the concern about the loss of national competences. In many areas of an economically interconnected Europe, however, Germany, as a single member state, no longer has any independent options for shaping policy, said the Freiburg archbishop. In a common currency area, "strong common coordination and control mechanisms in budgetary and fiscal policy" are necessary "in order to be able to guarantee democratic co-determination possibilities at all.
The reception was attended by Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, Vice Presidents Katrin Goring-Eckardt and Wolfgang Thierse, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). Also present were the CDU federal ministers Annette Schavan, Ronald Pofalla and Wolfgang Schauble, as well as the parliamentary group leaders Volker Kauder (CDU), Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) and Renate Kunast (Greens).
From the ecclesiastical sphere came the apostolic nuncio in Germany, Archbishop Jean-Claude Perisset, the archbishop of Berlin, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Gebhard Furst, the bishop of Essen and Catholic military bishop Franz-Joseph Overbeck, and the plenipotentiary of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Prelate Bernhard Felmberg.