Suddenly bundesliga

"It's roughly as if we had been catapulted from the regional to the national league all of a sudden," is how Robert Zollitsch's spokesman, Thomas Maier, tries to describe the new situation. Interest in the new president of the German Bishops' Conference is great in his homeland. This was also evident in his first service after the election.

It is the first service in his native Freiburg after Archbishop Robert Zollitsch was elected president of the German Bishops' Conference. And as the cathedral slowly fills up early Sunday evening, Germany's new supreme shepherd sits quietly and introspectively in a simple pew in front of the Marian altar. To come to rest, to pause – that no longer seems so easy for the 69-year-old after his election to the top of the bishops triggered a tremendous public interest. "We are super bishops," the cartoonist of Freiburg's local newspaper put it.But Zollitsch is not a man of shrill tones. At the beginning of the service, he thanked his home diocese for the "numerous good wishes and prayers" that gave him strength for his new task. He formulated it quite similarly before to his coworkers in the ordinariate at a small reception.Zollitsch has respect for the burden and the challenges of the new office – but from the beginning he solicits the support of those around him.

From the regional to the federal league all of a sudden "It is roughly as if we had been catapulted from the regional to the national league all of a sudden," Zollitsch's spokesman Thomas Maier tries to describe the new situation. Suddenly "Bild" and "Spiegel" call, all appointments have to be arranged with the press staff of the German Bishops' Conference in Bonn. Zollitsch himself has already contacted Rome to make an appointment around Easter for his inaugural visit with Pope Benedict XVI. to agree."It is clear to our archbishop's entourage that great new tasks and a lot of work lie ahead. But of course the joy and a little pride outweigh everything else," Maier said. For never before in the history of Freiburg has a senior pastor of Germany's second-largest diocese headed the bishops' conference."We're all a little proud here in the Southwest, of course, and we hope it will help the Catholic Church take off again," says service attendee Hannelore Azone. And Thomas Ressle from Freiburg formulates: "Zollitsch should continue the course of Cardinal Lehmann. But also times opposite Rome impulses set, so that same-sex partnerships are no longer discriminated against.

"Keyword: immorally high manager salaries On Sunday evening, the new bishops' conference president preaches somewhat less concretely about baptism and true Christian freedom that leads to a meaningful life. And he demands that Christians should raise their voices "where in politics, research and business the dignity and meaning of life are lost from view".Key words: immorally high manager salaries or the undermining of human dignity, for example in stem cell research. To counter this with an admonition is likely to become an important socio-political goal for Zollitsch.

"One can rely on one's word" Those who know him and have worked with him praise Zollitsch's ability to bring people along and involve them in decisions."You can rely on his word, he always listens carefully and is open to new arguments and points of view" – this is how the chairwoman of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) in Freiburg, Stefanie Orth, sums it up. "He must now use this for the nationwide problems of the church."The expectations of the new chairman are high. Confidence in the southwest, however, also. "I know the archbishop as a dynamic and goal-oriented man who faces problems and challenges by involving people and benefiting from their expertise. He can motivate and inspire people for his visions," says bishop spokesman Maier. This should now also apply to the Bundesliga. This Monday, Zollitsch officially succeeds Cardinal Karl Lehmann, who gave German Catholicism a voice and a face for more than two decades.By Volker Hasenauer (KNA)

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