Christmas service in Freiburg Cathedral © Patrick Seeger
Coming to terms with sexual abuse in the Catholic Church continues to drive the German bishops. In several Christmas sermons the topic played a role. But not all were in agreement.
In the days before Christmas, a statement by the Hildesheim Bishop Heiner Wilmer Contradiction provoked, according to which the abuse of power was "in the DNA of the church".
The Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker of Paderborn spoke of loss of trust. Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen stressed that changes are needed in the church after the "unbelievable scandal of sexual abuse of children and young people by clerics.
Church needs "healthy skepticism"
Overbeck's Dresden-based brother-in-office Heinrich Timmerevers Said the extent of sexual violence against children and young people "goes to the substance of faith and church". Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of Erfurt expressed hope "that God will not abandon his Church even in this time when we have to learn so many terrible things about the abuse of children and young people in the space of the Church".
The church must now learn to admit its fallibility, demanded the Wurzburg Bishop Franz Jung. "For me, that doesn't mean that you just have to throw everything overboard that has been true so far." But the self-evidence with which one amed to be good, must give way to a healthy skepticism.
Marx: "Church still has way to go"
Without directly mentioning the abuse scandal, said the Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz: "Today we are faced with the frightening fact that there is a dark side to this church."As a bishop, he sees this "as never before in my life as a Christian and a priest".
According to the Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx The church still has a "long way to go" in coming to terms with these acts. In "Bild am Sonntag," the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference again announced that they would "set out" to address more fundamental ies such as sexual morality, the training and lifestyle of priests "as well as the ie of power and participation in the church".
Woelki contradicts Wilmer
The Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki contradicted on the weekend on Deutschlandfunk the Hildesheim Bishop Wilmer. Whose statement that abuse of power is "in the DNA of the church" is not true. 'Because if that's the case, then I would have to leave the church'."
The Osnabruck Bishop Franz-Josef Bode meanwhile admitted failures in dealing with a priest accused of abuse. After his retirement, the priest had even been appointed temporary head of a parish and a supporting priest – "signed by me," Bode said. "I am painfully aware of this, and I ask for forgiveness and apologies for it."