“An atmosphere of trust”

The Catholic bishops and the Central Committee of German Catholics want to work more closely together. Top representatives agreed on this at a study day in Wurzburg that ended Monday. The study day "opened the way for further joint reflections on the future of the Church in Germany," according to a joint press release ied in Bonn. Outgoing ZdK President Hans Joachim Meyer spoke out for "an atmosphere of trust" in the church.

At the start of the conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, chairman of the Bishops' Conference, described the fact that the study day had come about as not self-evident. It is good, he said, for both sides to agree on priorities regarding the life and ministry of the church. Zollitsch called it important that the Catholic personalities elected in the ZdK are involved in the striving for an ecclesial renewal, "for which we bishops have an ultimate responsibility". There is also a need to discuss "the appropriate form of responsible cooperation between the church ministry and the laity in Germany. At the same time, controversial debates and diversity of opinion need not be feared; they have been part of the Church's image since the beginning. Solutions to difficulties in society and the church can only be found "if we talk openly with one another, do not conceal our own fears and concerns and take those of others seriously," Meyer said. This also applies, he said, to the relationship between bishops and laity. The only candidate for the upcoming election of the ZdK president in May, the Hessian Secretary of State for Culture Heinz-Wilhelm Brockmann (CDU), also pleaded for greater trust between the German bishops and the representatives of the Catholic laity in Germany: "We would like to be even more perceptible as a unity and radiate it."The chairman of the pastoral commission of the bishops' conference, Bishop Joachim Wanke of Erfurt, called it a challenge for the church to engage with the spiritually plural society without capitulating to the spirit of the times. "We need a deepening and a sanctification of our proclamation of God".

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