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Daring a new beginning
The Plenary Assembly of the Central Committee of German Catholics
The Catholic Church is experiencing a phase marked by “significant changes with long-term effects”, said Alois Glück, President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZDK), a body that brings together lay Catholics in Germany, during the ZDK plenary meeting held May 15-16 in Mannheim, on the eve of the inauguration of the German Catholics’ Day, held in the city of Baden-Württemberg May 16-20. Lay Germans addressed a set of issues that include the commitment in social and political life, support to the poor, and courageously addressing the ongoing crisis afflicting Europe. Follow the highlights of the meeting.
Credible Christians. “The coming years are a temporal window whereby a great many decisions will be taken”, Glück said, taking as examples “the developments of pastoral care structures” and the “dialogue process undertaken by the German Bishops’ Conference”. The ZDK president said he hopes that the decisions will be reiterated at the “German dioceses synod” along with its reforms efforts. Glück called for “a responsible and competent commitment in the competition of ideas and values”. “Religion hasn’t become less important”, he said, underlining that Christians “are called to be credible and have good arguments”. In the framework of the dialogue process “concrete action is important”, continued Glück, expressing his favourable view on extending deaconship to women. As relates to reforms, it is necessary “to combine impatience to far-reaching visions. Availability to cooperate continues in the long run only if projects for change become visible”, he said.
Concerns for Europe. Glück conveyed his concern over the situation in Europe. “The debt crisis is upsetting many Member States. The policy for containment in public spending entails great sacrifices”, said ZDK President, emphasizing that the reforms carried out in Germany “brought Germany to become a stable island in a stormy context. While ten years ago”, he added, “Germany was considered the sick patient of Europe”. At the same time, Glück criticized populistic and conservative right-wing groups marked by aggressiveness against immigrants and homosexuals. “Christians ought to clearly distance themselves from these groups which boast Christian Western values, while failing to respect the dignity of others”, he warned, thanking German bishops who recently condemned the right-wing portal kreuz.net.
No to resignation. The ZDK plenary assembly approved an “appeal to Mannheim” for Catholics’ Day, in which the executive board of the organization for the laity guarded against resignation and called upon Catholics to step up their commitment in the Church and across society. In the statement, signed after a lengthy debate on a set of items, ZDK highlighted the image “of a Church to the service of others”, which “is never an end in itself” and which, “while serving individuals in their existential reality, serves God”. In the appeal, the organization admitted the existence of a discrepancy between Church doctrine and the existential reality of many Catholics and conveyed its concern for a “deafening silence” within Catholic groups. In the meeting with the press, president Glück underlined: “Church innovations always came from grassroots level”. It is necessary “to act urgently owing to the lack of priests”. According to ZDK president “the Church suffers from a flaw in the culture of dialogue and debate”. For this reason, “Catholics’ day must be an open forum without taboos”. For ZDK, Catholics’ Day “will show a Church that does not loose track of the reality in which the human person lives, that is merciful and does not withdraw in fear from the world”, which is “the place in which we live, learn and believe in”. The world is “the place in which we bear witness of our hope and we carry out our missionary work”.
Daring a new beginning. In the Mannheim appeal, ZDK underlined that “Catholics’ Day 2012 takes place at a time of great changes in the Church and society”, and in the whole world. “In this situation, we need the brave commitment of all believers, men and women in faithfulness to God. We take on our responsibility for our Church, for the common good of our Country and for a peaceful coexistence in the world”, claim lay German Catholics. “With confidence in the Spirit of God, we want to dare a new beginning: in our Church and in our society, under the banner of European and global cooperation”, states the document, reiterating the slogan “Daring a new beginning”, chosen for the Day of Mannheim.