Bishop Overbeck © dpa
"We celebrate dialogue."Under this motto, the conclusion of the diocesan forums of the dialogue process "Future in Catholic" will be celebrated on Saturday in Essen. Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck explains on our site-interview why it is worth celebrating.
Interviewer: Mr. Bishop, who has had a dialogue with whom for a year and a half? And what will be celebrated?
Bishop Overbeck: The first part of the dialog process is over. There is already much reason to thank and celebrate. We have dealt with various topics in six diocesan forums, and have come into contact with a great many people. I have spoken in many rounds of exchange with many people from our diocese, so that a lot of trust has grown. This is worth celebrating.
Interviewer: If you take one forum as an example. What was it about in concrete terms?
Bishop Overbeck: There have been many structural changes under my predecessor. It quickly became very clear to me that there are many reasons for this in terms of content. They lie in the completely different way in which people believe today and how people live their faith in the church today. We have made this a topic with the experience that it is worthwhile to listen to each other and to go spiritual ways together. Then we turned to the very everyday questions of church life and asked: what does this mean concretely for the care of the neighbor, with regard to liturgy, worship and prayer, and finally also with regard to the proclamation of faith and faith communication?
Interviewer: At the start of the forum, you emphasized that the dialogue process could bring up all the ies that were paralyzing and burdening the diocese. What paralyzes and burdens people to this day??
Bishop Overbeck: In view of this target perspective we have opened two strands in our diocese. On the one hand these very forums. It is a burden for many people that only a few come to worship and to church, that the succession of generations is very different with regard to participation in church life. Many wonder, despite the many needs we have in the diocese, how we can really be very close to people in need. For many, the question of how we can not only exemplify the faith to the next generation, but also pass it on to them in terms of content, is very moving. We have come to good results, which I will also present tomorrow with my vicar general.
The second strand was the dialogues with the bishop, in which I took a stand on many contentious ies in our social academy: On dealing with power in the church, on the role of women, on sexuality and partnership, and on the future of congregations. These were controversial evenings when I discussed with professors. Quite a lot of people were then invited to open questions. This had a resounding success with quite a few participants. This helped a lot to open the question horizons and to deal honestly with each other.
Interviewer: Many controversial ies cannot be decided at the diocesan level or at the German level, can they??
Bishop Overbeck: This does not mean that these questions cannot and must not be discussed openly! You have to take people's questions seriously and try to understand them from the inside. The same applies to the position of the bishops, the pope and the church as a whole. And this in view of a possible development, but also in all clarity, so that we are perceived as a church in the world. It was and is always good to remain honest about all these questions and to know that everyone has to reacquire the questions and also the answers.
Interviewer: If you now draw a summary from the dialogue process. Is the Catholic future of the Essen diocese secure??
Bishop Overbeck: We celebrate dialogue. We really have something to celebrate and thank God for finding ways of trusting us. It has become very clear that in addition to all the external changes, there are many internal ones. Accepting this is important, so one of the most important outcomes: We are celebrating in terms of dialogue the realization that we need to change our attitudes, become more spiritual. We must see that we are no longer a church that is naturally a people's church, but a church among the people. And at the same time we have to learn anew to live with many people here who are not Christians, who are not Catholic and who have many questions.
The interview was conducted by Matthias Friebe.