Candles at the Easter Vigil © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
The Catholic bishops as well as representatives of the Protestant Church in Germany have called on Easter for cohesion and hope in the pandemic. In some sermons, the focus was also on the problems of the church.
Easter, according to the words of the Limburg Bishop Georg Batzing an "ingenious idea of God". In the resurrection of his Son, God makes it clear "how much he is attached to the life of each and every one whom he has called into existence," said the president of the German Bishops' Conference on Saturday evening. At Easter, God shows his human kindness. "And it makes clear how he intends to right the victims of history in the face of the wrongs done to them; those abruptly snatched from life – including the tens of thousands of victims of the pandemic – are to enjoy life forever."
The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference regrets scandals and inflexibility in the Catholic Church, according to his own words. He suffers from the church "when it causes believers to waver through scandals or blocks access to faith for many through ossified structures and a lack of willingness to change," the Limburg bishop said in the city's cathedral on Easter Sunday. It pains him when a young man regrets leaving the church in a letter. And then continued: "But, what you no longer feel in yourself, what you can not change, and what is not even able to turn around, that you should leave."He could understand that, Batzing emphasized. "And I regret that as a church we give such an image."
This has little to do with Easter and "all its dynamics, which serve only one goal, that people meet the living Lord and believe in him," said Batzing. He called for trust "that Jesus lives and works in this church and gives us the courage for renewal". Easter is "not like going to a museum to admire a work of art. It is also not like the annual New Year's concert, which we listen to with emotion in order to go out to eat afterwards. Whoever celebrates Easter and does not encounter the Risen Lord inwardly has missed it," Batzing emphasized. For him, believing in the resurrection means entering into a relationship with Jesus. "This has changed my life. Through him it has gained depth, has acquired splendor and the long breath of hope. Jesus is the decisive corrective for me so that I don't lose my way; he is a companion and friend and the great promise that my life will end well," the bishop said. "Easter is the highest feast, faith in the resurrection the orienting foundation of our Christianity."The church as a whole is "the wide space" in which the relationship between people and Jesus can take place. Batzing stressed that he loves the church and owes it much.
For the Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki Love is the clearest distinguishing sign of Easter. Love, like the resurrected Jesus, calls man by his name, Woelki preached on Easter Sunday in Cologne Cathedral. "She looks man in the face. It looks at him and thereby gives him "An-Sehen". Love opens the future, because it is stronger than death."This message contains hope. The love of the risen Jesus "wants to make us happy to the core," Woelki had said earlier at the Easter Vigil. "It is up to us to allow ourselves to be taken hold of, animated and moved by this love."He encouraged us to take our Easter faith seriously, to live from the ever renewed encounter with God and to let him determine the way we live our lives. "In this way we carry the message of the resurrection to our world, which in many cases is dominated by fear and resignation," the archbishop said. Easter shows a way out of a disorientation that is becoming more and more widespread.
The Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx called on people not to lose sight of the message of hope despite the crises in society and the church. "We will not prove ourselves in this crisis if everyone wants to gain life, but only if we keep the 'paschal law' in mind. Giving life and thus gaining life, that is, sharing one's life and using it in the spirit of solidarity and thus making the future possible," the archbishop warned. For the church, he hopes for a turning point: sometimes it seems to him that traditions are held on to out of fear of the new.
The Archbishop of Paderborn Hans-Josef Becker Lamented that many people reckoned little with God's intervention in their lives. For example, people hoped for the possibilities of medicine and science, which, however, in the final consequence also came to their limits. The resurrection of Jesus celebrated at Easter is a "divine initiative for life". Since Jesus' resurrection, it can no longer be said that standing up for life is pointless because everything is doomed to death anyway, Becker said in his sermon on Easter Sunday in Paderborn Cathedral. "It is about a life that should be free of fear, where no one needs to hide from other people and where no one is scourged and pierced, neither by evil looks nor by any kind of violence."
Not having to manage life alone is the first and fundamental message of Easter, Becker continued. The Easter message of the resurrection of Jesus by God means "to be carried to life," he said. The basic melody of Jesus' life is: "God, the Father, is concerned about your life, you can trust him, even if the outer impression seems to speak against it."
The Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg sees in the Christian Easter message a signal of hope and confidence. "Easter encourages us to trust life because God lives it with us," said Furst. It is extremely difficult to remain hopeful in the current pandemic. "Out of fear of the virus, we run the risk of closing ourselves off from one another and barricading ourselves behind our fears."
Humanity is experiencing, according to the words of Osnabruck Bishop Franz-Josef Bode at present, how agonizingly long the three days can become during which Jesus lay in the grave. After a pandemic year full of darkness and suffering, there needs to be a goal and an after – a kind of resurrection, as Christians celebrate at Easter.
The Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg Described Easter as a "dynamic feast". "Let us be raised up and let us stand up, especially now in the lockdown of the Corona pandemic."God wants to awaken people to mindfulness, respect, goodwill, consideration and helpfulness.
The Berlin Archbishop Heiner Koch stressed that in times of uncertainty and doubt, faith can grow. He could "mature into a mature, sustainable, resilient faith that then carries us in difficult hours and gives us hope beyond all easy optimism".
The Magdeburg Bishop Gerhard Feige sees the Corona crisis as an incentive to criticize "incrustations" in the church. "How many entrench themselves behind doctrines and habits," Feige said in his Easter message. "Sometimes the Gospel, as the very conscience of our Church, excites or excites us far too little," said Bishop. He called on Christians to leave their "familiar paths and beliefs to seek God outside of them as well".
The Corona crisis can lead to a deeper understanding of the Easter message, according to the bishops in Saxony. The emotions of the disciples' disappointment could be traced "as probably in few other years," said the Bishop of Dresden-Meissen, Heinrich Timmerevers, and asked: "Where is the God of salvation in the pandemic??" Also the Goerlitz Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt recalled that the vulnerability of life became newly aware during the Corona crisis.
The current state of his church was criticized in the Easter Vigil of the Bishop of Essen Franz-Josef Overbeck. "What we often experience today from the church and in the faith has much to do with horror and terror, with flight and with fear," he said. The Ruhr bishop spoke out for a reality "where the church sets signs of love and affection, where believers give blessings and lovers are faithful to one another.".
The Bishop Felix Genn of Munster Anticipates long-term consequences from abuse scandal in Catholic Church. "The shadows cast by abuse will always remain, no matter how much we work through, no matter how much we do to repair and heal the damage and the wounds," Genn said.
According to the Freiburg Archbishop Stephan Burger Many people are currently only talking about the mistakes and shortcomings of the church as an institution and criticizing, for example, its unwillingness to reform or its failure to adequately deal with abuse. However, it is crucial not only to criticize, but to draw strength for life from the resurrection of Christ and to commit oneself to the good news of Christianity.
The Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier encouraged to more energy. "Despondency and resignation are the real stones that block us and turn living spaces into burial caves," he said. Often reasonable-sounding arguments can be found for not doing something. But this prevents the chance to have new, surprising experiences. He referred to the women who, according to the biblical account, visited Jesus' tomb, saw the stone rolled away there and immediately reported Jesus' resurrection.
The consequences of the lockdown will, according to the Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz underestimated. Mental injuries of children and young people are at least as important as the question of incidence values, Kohlgraf said in the interview of the week of Deutschlandfunk on Sunday. At the same time, Kohlgraf criticized images of man that describe him purely technically and as a biologically functioning machine. You can't replace spare parts in a human being "as you would in a broken car," the bishop said. Such images of people would endanger above all the sick and the weak. In the Corona pandemic, he observed that the image of man is often reduced to physical health. But there are still "other dimensions of being human".
The Hildesheim Bishop Heiner Wilmer In his Easter sermon, called for Christians not to lose hope in the Corona pandemic. "Easter means: Corona does not have us in its clutches. Even death does not defeat us," he said at the festive Mass in Hildesheim Cathedral on Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. People are safe in the arms of God – regardless of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, Wilmer said, according to a press release distributed in advance. "His covenant with us humans is for all time, stretched out like a rainbow in the sky."
The Aachen Bishop Helmut Dieser looked at the work of conspiracy narratives in the Corona crisis. People believe in all this "because they cannot otherwise endure the inexplicable and the uncertain. Where science and human feasibility do not offer a quick solution, someone must be to blame". The story of faith, however, is not a story "of bad evil forces playing their game with us," Dieser said. At Easter Sunday Mass in Aachen Cathedral, the bishop attests to his church's "bad press, mass departures from the church, trouble within down to the executive level and a dark history of abuse of power and crimes against children". Mary Magdalene stands for "all the women and men who do not give up". The apostle Peter was ashamed of having denied Jesus. "All of us, sisters and brothers, are in Peter's shoes. We too are ashamed of the crimes of abuse, of the inability of not a few to be upright and true, of the sluggishness even of all the efforts at renewal in our Church."In the favorite disciple, he finally recognized a power that was in all the people who believed in reforms and wanted to help make them come true. From Jesus comes "the strength for confession, the courage for a new beginning, for reconciliation, for reform," said this. Proof of this is the history of the Church itself. She was in 2.The church has not perished in the last 000 years, despite all the crises and scandals. "It is undiminished the space filled by the Spirit to encounter Jesus, to learn to love him, to follow him."
The bishop of the state of Hamburg, Ralf Meister, called for help for people on the fringes of society Speyer auxiliary bishop Otto Georgens representing the bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, who was ill. Just as Jesus approached all people without fear, Christians should be in solidarity with "the downtrodden, with the oppressed, with strangers, with the unemployed, with prisoners".
The Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, praised the commitment of women in the Corona crisis. Countless women testify to the light of the resurrection by being there for others every day and bringing light into their lives, he said at a service in Landshut.
The Protestant Bishop Kirsten Fehrs of Hamburg encouraged a confident attitude at Easter. "To stand up and defy, filled with this hope that shatters destruction – that is the core of the Easter message," Fehrs said in a televised Easter Sunday service broadcast by Second German Television (ZDF) from the Evangelical Church of St. John in Eltville-Erbach in the Rheingau-Taunus district of Hesse. Easter is not only the highest feast of Christianity, but also the most courageous, the bishop of the Hamburg and Lubeck district of the Protestant Church of the North explained.
"Life that defies death – and the virus, fear, violence, everything that makes life difficult. We have reason to hope – today every futility is defied." Easter confidence should reach everywhere in the world, said Fehrs, who is also a member of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The bishop recalled the many children growing up in slum camps, as well as the fate of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Hanoverian Bishop Ralf Meister called for using Easter, especially in Corona times, for a change of perspective toward hope and gratitude. "Easter is not a one-time lottery win, but a deep, grateful view of my life in God's mercy. It is the radical change of perspective," said the Protestant theologian on Easter Sunday in the Marktkirche in Hanover. For 13 months now, people have lived on disappointed confidence, with distance and mask, in uncertainty, loneliness and mourning.
Jesus invites us to look back on our own lives, to "pick up fragments of promise" and to put them together to form a view of life. At the end, there is the realization that in every life there is a lot of "preservation, confirmation and beauty". Therefore, despite all disappointments, it is worthwhile to look at what has been given by God. "God has never promised us that our life will be a happy one every day," Meister. "But that it makes sense and runs towards him, he has agreed to that."
The Lippian State Superintendent Dietmar Arends In his Easter sermon, emphasized the close ties between the Christian faith and Judaism and called for combating anti-Semitism. Christians celebrate Jesus' resurrection on Easter as a celebration of life and freedom, and Jews commemorate their liberation from slavery in Egypt on Passover, the Protestant theologian said Sunday in a service in Detmold broadcast on YouTube.
"It must fill us with shame that in the church for centuries, especially on Good Friday and Easter, there was agitation against Jews," Arends said, according to the text of the speech. "And we must resolutely oppose every form of anti-Semitism, which is also increasingly spreading again in our society."The world is also longing for deliverance from the Corona pandemic, said the highest representative of the Lippische Landeskirche. He asks God "to accompany us through this time, to give us the strength we need". Easter is also a story of hope in view of the pandemic, because God himself overcomes the powers of death. "He wants to infect us with the smell of freedom and life and encourage us to share that smell with others," Arends said. "For this is what is needed at this time, that we stand by each other with our speaking, doing and praying with the hope that is given to us."