The left pious

On Wednesday begins in Osnabruck the 97th Katholikentag. German Catholic Day. Slogans like "Hengsbach, we are coming, we are the left-wing pious" are not to be expected then. You could hear them 40 years ago – at what was probably the most rebellious Catholic Day in history in 1968.

Older ones still occasionally tell about it, wistfully or smilingly. "Hengsbach, we are coming, we are the left-wing pious," chanted "critical Catholics" on the evening of the 4th of March. September 1968. Already at the opening rally of the Essen Catholic Day 40 years ago, it was clear that it would be lively. The host local bishop Franz Hengsbach reacted to the shouts in the Grugahalle: "If you are not only left-wing, but really devout, you are really very welcome."In the turbulent year of 1968, the lay meeting turned into a unique moment. "Essen was different", summed up the presidium of the 82.German Catholic Day in the 660-page documentation volume. And the journalist Hajo Goertz drew the conclusion in 2006 in a short summary of all meetings: "1968 Essen – in the history of the Katholikentage the most turbulent year." The newspapers of September'68 reflect that."Catholic Day of Rebellion," headlined the "Welt" at the conclusion. The "Rheinische Post" spoke of the "1. Protestant Catholic Day". The "Frankfurter Rundschau" saw "The successful rehearsal of disobedience", the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" "Rougher fronts in Catholicism". Exciting summer Just two weeks before the Essen Days, Warsaw Pact troops marched into Czechoslovakia. The summer of 1968 was also full of tension in ecclesiastical terms: the high spirits of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) were followed by the encyclical "Humanae vitae," with which Pope Paul VI. de facto banned the pill, and – just in time before Essen – the distanced response of the German bishops, the "Konigstein Declaration". The student protests had also affected university theology. Thus belongs to the biography of Joseph Ratzinger – Pope Benedict XVI. – the shock experience that his lecture in Tubingen was blown up. At the preparatory meeting of the "grassroots" of Essen, the political police also listened in."in the midst of this world" was the motto of the days of the 4. to 8.September 1968. The participants were not only concerned with sexual morality and democracy in the church – with banners such as "sinful instead of mature", "obedient and neurotic" or "everyone talks about the pill – we take it". They also vigorously debated ies of family policy, the relationship of the church to the state, the role of the Bundeswehr and military chaplaincy, global justice, the state of the world of work, education and democracy. Occasionally, young people would take their places at the microphones on the podium.Essen also offered other new things. Protestant guests received the loudest applause. The meeting gave impulses for the ecumenical discussion of the laity, it also ensured that henceforth Catholics and Jews also talked to each other at Catholic Days.Bishops mingled with the people, with Julius Dopfner, the chairman, leading the way. As an innovation, there was a Catholic Day newspaper "K'68 – Aktuell" (circulation at the end 200 copies), which was successfully offered for sale on the street.000), and because the "critical Catholics" countered, there were two. For the first time ever, there was a panel on the role of Catholic Christians in the trade unions.

"These days have brought the confrontation we sought" "This Katholikentag should open us German Catholics to the worries and needs of this world," said Katholikentag President Bernhard Vogel at the conclusion before 100.000 listeners. "These days have brought the desired confrontation. Openly and honestly, often harshly and relentlessly, passionately and sometimes carried away by the vehemence of arguments presented, we worked together."Among Germany's Catholics, there was "not a deceptive silence, not a weary disengagement from the world, not a lazy perseverance, but alertness, a new beginning and an energetic will" to work for peace, with people and with the church.A "national council" had been demanded by thousands of Essen participants in resolutions. In 1970, the Wurzburg Synod of the dioceses in the Federal Republic began its. Already in 1969, the basic church and solidarity groups had joined together. Last week they squatted together in Heppenheim for the annual meeting – at that time mostly "critical Catholics", today between retirement and unretirement. They paved the way for the groups "Initiative Churches from Below" and "We are Church", which came into being much later.On Wednesday, the 97th National Council begins in Osnabruck. German Catholic Day under the motto "You lead us out into the wide open.". Oh yes, actually the meeting was supposed to take place in Essen. The Ruhr bishopric withdrew in planning. For financial reasons.

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