“Trust is growing again”

The Central Committee of German Catholics elects a new president and a new leadership on Friday in the second attempt. The only candidate to succeed Hans Joachim Meyer as President is CSU politician and former Bavarian Parliamentary President Alois Gluck. A retrospective and outlook.

Trust is growing again." Hans Joachim Meyer is cautiously optimistic when he describes the relationship between the Catholic bishops and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) these days. "I am confident that we will again come to a resilient basis of trust."Originally, the 73-year-old wanted to give up his office as president of the ZdK already in the spring. But then the German Bishops' Conference refused to approve Hesse's Secretary of State for Education Heinz-Wilhelm Brockmann (CDU) as Meyer's successor – and the ZdK faced one of the worst crises in its history. In the meantime, the broken porcelain has been putty again in a makeshift way. At their fall plenary session on Friday, the 220 delegates of the ZdK want to elect CSU politician Alois Gluck (69) as successor to Meyer, who was born in Rostock. There is no question of a generational change. At most from a change of mentality: the sometimes Prussian-strict professor and education politician Meyer, who experienced Catholicism in the minority situation and under the experiences of the SED dictatorship, is followed by a full-blooded politician from a Catholic home state of Bavaria. Gluck is known as a calm, no-nonsense politician who enjoys a great deal of respect across party lines. He earned a reputation as a forward thinker and lateral thinker and once described himself as a "walking mediation committee" – qualities that the ZdK can now put to good use. For three terms – since 1997 – Meyer was the first East German to head the ZdK. The 73-year-old is likely to count among his most important successes the two ecumenical church congresses, which – in Berlin in 2003 and in Munich in 2010 – demonstrated the joint responsibility and claim to co-determination of Catholics and Protestants for Germany, which is becoming more and more secular. During Meyer's term of office, the ZdK has become politically more pluralistic: Not only does it also include prominent Green politicians and liberals. The spectrum of opinion has also broadened on inner-church ies. There were heated arguments about the ZdK president's critical stance on compulsory celibacy, conflict counseling for pregnant women, and the Donum Vitae association, which Meyer also supported and which continues the conflict counseling prohibited by the Pope by iing the counseling certificate. Even with today's Pope Benedict XVI. Meyer, an edgy Catholic, has been involved in many disputes: as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger has repeatedly been critical of the work of the ZdK, the Catholic Days, and the position of the lay body on pregnancy conflict counseling. In all these conflicts, Meyer has never minced his words. Because the father of three families, who was Saxon Minister of Science from 1990 to 2002, was characterized by a willingness to engage in dialogue, but also by persistence and staying power. To be obedient to the pope and the bishops in everything, the Rostock native considers "uncatholic". Again and again he called for a greater say for the laity, for example in the debate over parish mergers, church finances or in the conflict over the role of elected lay councils. Meyer counters bishops' criticism that the ZdK is acting as a sideline by saying that the ZdK also has the task of taking a position on church ies. But then it is up to the bishops to make decisions. For the outgoing president of the ZdK, however, it is clear that a strong lay committee is also in the interest of the bishops. The ZdK must not become an appendage of the bishops in the public perception. Otherwise, the church would lose its social charisma.

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