Zollitsch promises reforms

At the end of the Freiburg Diocesan Assembly, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch promised to take up the church reform proposals developed by the 300 delegates.

"Nothing will be forgotten or lost. I am committed to keeping the ies on the table," said the president of the German Bishops' Conference on Sunday in Freiburg. Specifically, the bishop announced that he would work to create a new office of deaconess in the Catholic Church. He also plans to reach out to remarried divorcees, who have so far been excluded from important parts of church life, such as receiving communion. "It is important to me, without questioning the indissolubility of marriage, to take the women and men concerned seriously," Zollitsch said. It is about more than the reception of the sacraments: "It is about help and accompaniment out of faith."

In addition, the Archdiocese of Freiburg is working on a so-called pastoral "handout" for all parishes. This could, for example, officially allow remarried couples to take communion if they agree to talks and accompaniment by pastors and thus document that they did not end their first marriage lightly. A new form of blessing for a second marriage would also be conceivable. However, it is currently unclear if and when the paper will be published.

The Freiburg diocesan assembly, which met from Thursday to Sunday, had addressed numerous reform and change proposals to Archbishop Robert Zollitsch at the end of the meeting. The delegates from the entire archdiocese spoke out in favor of strengthening women in the church, allowing remarried divorcees to receive the sacraments, and blessing same-sex couples. In addition, non-clerics, including women, should be allowed to preach in Sunday services.

No votes

The reform proposals were worked out by the 100 women and 200 men in small groups organized according to topics and then presented in the plenary session of the assembly in Freiburg's Martin Church. There was no vote on the 33 individual demands; however, the delegates had the opportunity to signal their support or rejection by assigning "approval points. Some delegates expressed criticism of the process, lamenting the lack of a controversial plenary debate and real votes.

As further proposals, the delegates spoke out, for example, for easier-to-understand language in the church or an opening to "contemporary cultures". In addition, he said, life in the local pastoral units must become more spiritual. Catholics were also called upon to do more for the sick, the disabled and people on the margins of society, and to link the work of Caritas more closely with parishes. Zollitsch stressed that the church offers for children need new impulses. Parents would have to be better accompanied in the religious education of their children.

Central components of the first Freiburg diocesan assembly in more than 20 years were, in addition to the substantive deliberations, church services, prayers and spiritual impulses. The meeting ended on Sunday at noon with a festive service in Freiburg Cathedral. Zollitsch invited the delegates to meet again in a year's time to "ascertain" and "inform" themselves about the status of the implementation of the recommendations.

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