“Protect democracy from erosion”

Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyr calls for more courage to engage in intellectual debate in churches and society. It is important to develop positive visions for the future of Germany and Europe, as well as for the churches.

In addition, one should resist the fear of a perceived loss of identity, said Wiesemann on Thursday evening in Saarbrucken. The bishop criticized that differentiated discussions were becoming increasingly difficult and that anti-intellectualism was on the rise. For many, the consequence of this is isolation and exclusion. Wiesemann called instead for personal engagement with literature, art, music, philosophy and religion; this could also "protect democracy from erosion". The Bishop of Speyr spoke at the annual reception of the Catholic Office in Saarland.

For the first time, the new director of the Catholic Office, Katja Gobel, had invited to this event. Gobel had taken over the office in the summer from Prelate Peter Prassel, who had retired. Goebel is the first woman to hold the post. In his welcoming remarks, Saarland Minister President Tobias Hans (CDU) said her appointment showed that the Catholic Church should dare to "bring more women to the top".

Church's credibility "tarnished and damaged"

In his speech, Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier also addressed the abuse scandal, which had "tarnished and damaged" the credibility of the Catholic Church. He said it is necessary to come to terms with the misdeeds of public officials. It is clear that action must now follow: "Whether we are trustworthy is shown by what we do," said Ackermann, who is also the representative of the German Bishops' Conference for questions of sexual abuse of minors.

The event was attended by representatives of civil society and state institutions as well as cabinet members and parliamentary group leaders from the state parliament, including Oskar Lafontaine (Left Party).

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