According to the former President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, the Catholic Church is currently experiencing a turning point. “We Catholics are becoming significantly fewer,” he said at a lecture in the German city of Muenster: “Never before have there been such large numbers of people leaving the Church. The decline is dramatic”.
The abuse scandal has massively shaken the Church’s confidence and has been a trigger for discontent right down to the core congregations: “Despite everything, however, the Christian faith needs the Church”.
At the same time, Sternberg drew a positive conclusion from the Synodal Path, the project for reforms within the Catholic Church in Germany, which he had helped to initiate: “Despite massive interference from Rome, the Synodal Path has been a great success”. He said it has shown that the Church was capable of and willing to change.
At the beginning of March, the Plenary Assembly of the Synodal Path reform project decided on concrete reforms for the German Bishops’ Conference. For example, women and non-ordained men will be able to preach in Church services in the future. There will also be blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples and divorced people who have remarried. The Pope is also to be asked to reconsider compulsory celibacy for priests.
“The international attention has made it clear that the issues we have discussed are also on the agenda in many other countries around the world,” Sternberg added. He sharply criticised “small, very vocal protest groups” such as Maria 1.0, which “abuse the rosary for political agitation. This is a Catholic variant of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) that is unworthy of argument among Catholics”.
According to Sternberg, there is also dissatisfaction in many German parishes because the shortage of priests means parishes are being merged into larger units: “We are currently experiencing the collapse of the social structure of the Church”.
Originally reported by KNA Germany.