“Only the tip of the iceberg”

A little light in the dark: Japan bishops' conference releases late abuse study © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

Japan's Catholic Bishops' Conference has released its long-awaited report on sexual abuse of children and adolescents by clerics and religious. It shows lack of reappraisal and cover-up.


Last refuge cemetery

The grand entrance is for a good cause. On Saturday the ZDF broadcasts the donation gala "A Heart for Children. Among others: Hollywood icon Selma Hayek, tennis legend Andre Agassi, actress Veronica Ferres. And Father Max Abalos from the Philippines. Between the TV event hosted by Thomas Gottschalk and the workplace of Father Max are not only several thousand kilometers, but also whole worlds away.

At the big Saturday night show, Abalos presents his work in the cemeteries of the Philippine metropolis of Cebu with its millions of inhabitants. Between gravestones and mausoleums, more than 700 families now eke out an existence there. For many of them, the Catholic chaplain is something of a ray of hope in a situation that is more than gloomy. With church services and soup kitchens, the 66-year-old tries to reach those people who no longer have a place to live, even in the slums of Cebu. Some of them had to vacate their huts for new construction projects, others were washed out of the agrarian hinterland into the conurbation in the heart of the island state – and perished in a maelstrom of violence, drugs and prostitution. Like Wendy, who for many years procured in the red light districts of Cebu. She became pregnant by a German sex tourist; since then she has lived with her young son as a living among the dead.
Daily struggle for survival The cemetery also became the last refuge for Amalia and her family. Why she came here is something the 45-year-old is reluctant to talk about. For this, she proudly tells of her children, who already contribute to her livelihood. Joshua collects the remains of deadlights during the day, which his sister Junalyn then makes into new candles. The equivalent of one euro for 60 copies of recycled goods. A daily struggle for survival that Junalyn wants to escape as soon as possible. "I'm trying hard at school and want to be a teacher later," the 13-year-old says earnestly. So that she would no longer have to sleep in the cemetery and could live in a real house. To help Junalyn and her peers, Father Max has embarked on an ambitious plan. Together with the Catholic aid organization missio, he wants to start a project in the coming year that will offer new perspectives to 400 children and their parents. At the heart of the initiative is a kindergarten and preschool – in Cebu's largest cemetery. Sounds absurd? Not for Father Max, who is convinced of his mission education. "We're just helping the children develop their own skills," he says, smiling. Around 74.000 euros have been budgeted by the project partners for their cemetery campaign. Money to be raised again on Saturday by German television viewers. Father Max gets support from Stephanie zu Guttenberg, wife of the German defense minister. A lot of support for him and his proteges, shortly before Christmas and from a completely different world.

Note: "A Heart for Children" fundraising gala, ZDF, Sat. 12.12., 20.15 – 22.45 o'clock.


Yellow card from the vatican

The Vatican has reprimanded the moral theological positions of the US-American nun Margaret Farley in a doctrinal examination procedure. Several statements of the Yale professor of Christian ethics contradict Catholic teaching, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced in a "Notification. The main points of contention are statements on homosexuality, marriage, divorce, remarriage and masturbation.


Against “false perfectionism”

Now Rainer Maria Woelki also wears the "pallium". Benedict XVI. ceremoniously presented the Berlin cardinal with the stole in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday; as a sign of their dignity as archbishops, Woelki and 44 other clergy from around the world accepted it. The ceremony almost coincided with the first anniversary of Woelki's appointment to head the Archdiocese of Berlin.


“He will proclaim the truth to us”

Joachim Cardinal Meisner hopes for Pope Benedict XVI. During his visit to Germany, an unabridged proclamation of the Christian faith and clear announcements for Catholics and Protestants. In the interview, the Archbishop of Cologne also talks about theologian Pope Joseph Ratzinger and about the situation of East German Catholics in the GDR and today.

CBA: Cardinal, you recently experienced the Pope in Spain, as he completed an enormous workload in great heat. The travel program in Germany is also tight. How does he manage it at his age?


Segregation instead of unity

In the largest Lutheran church in the USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the fronts have hardened in the conflict over sexual ethics, homosexuality and biblical interpretation: Some Lutheran congregations this week founded a new church, the North American Lutheran Church.

The trigger for this split is a decision by U.S. Lutherans last August to open the way for openly lesbian and gay theologians to enter the pastorate. That made the move to a new church inevitable, said Pastor Mark Chavez, one of the coordinators of the founding assembly Thursday and Friday in Grove City, Ohio. The engine behind the new church is the Coalition for Renewal, an association of conservative Lutheran clergy and congregations. More than 1.000 worshippers expected at church plant. The North American Lutheran Church sees itself as a counterweight to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is said to be too liberal and distant from the Bible, and which emerged from the merger of three churches in 1988.

Small portion of congregations want to follow The new church embodies the "center of Lutheranism in America" and holds fast to the authority of Scripture as the "sole source and norm for faith and life," Chavez explains. Of course, the new church starts small numerically, he concedes. Even before the founding of the church, a good dozen congregations had already declared their membership. He was impressed, Chavez says, that hundreds of the 10.300 Lutheran congregations to consider leaving the "mother church". John Brooks of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said the church regrets resignations. So far, however, they have been limited. About 200 of the more than 10.000 congregations have left their home church and joined Mission for Christ Lutheran Fellowship because of the decision to open the pastorate to clergy living in same-sex partnerships, he said. Anglicans in the U.S. have also had heated controversies over their treatment of homosexual clergy.