Reassurance and departure

Faith and reason are not contradictory – Pope Benedict XVI. Emphasized this conviction several times during his visit to Bavaria on 9. until 14. September. In the shadow of the criticism of a pas of his speech at the University of Regensburg, which was understood as Islamophobic, the optimism of this message was almost lost: Whoever faces the dialogue of modernity as a person of faith does not need to leave his religion out of it.

The dioceses have reorganized themselves The pope formulated – no matter how much the media searched for maudlin-bajuary motives in the run-up – a message for all of Germany and Europe. Like this admonition, many things during these white-blue days were typical of the state of the Catholic Church in Germany in 2006. Thus, the Pope's visit to Bavaria is part of that image of self-arance that currently characterizes the Catholic Church in Germany.The 27 dioceses still have to deal with declining financial resources and structural changes, even though the number of people leaving the church is declining. But during the past twelve months, alarming reports about dioceses on the brink of bankruptcy no longer dominated. It is gradually becoming clear how the individual dioceses want to reposition themselves.The archdiocese of Berlin, often seen as a symbol of the church's financial plight, has made progress in the consolidation process. It is fitting that the bishops now want to focus on pastoral concepts for the future at their spring plenary assembly in April.

Kirchentag and new local bishops

The Catholic Day in Saarbrucken, which took place at the end of May under the motto "Justice in the Face of God," certainly does not stand out from the series of biennial assessments of the current situation. This was not only due to the unchampionship-like weather and the limited inviting charm of the city. Sometimes a meeting gets lost in the broadness.The two appointments of local bishops that occurred in 2006 raise eyebrows. The new pastors of Hildesheim and Eichstatt, Norbert Trelle and Gregor Maria Hanke, stand for a dialogical church. In the circle of bishops, the more courageous look ahead is dominating again. One indication of this is the trip of all German local bishops to the Holy Land planned for the end of February – a long-planned, frequently postponed undertaking of great importance and also of diplomatic pretension.

"Ecumenism of profiles

In the shadow of the Catholic self-arance, which seems more relaxed than it did five years ago, the Protestant side is making greater efforts to raise its profile. This "ecumenism of profiles" can be seen in apparent trivialities. Certainly coincidentally, at the same time as the annual Michaelmas reception of the Commissariat of the German Bishops in Berlin, the EKD Council President, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, invited guests to one of his "bishops' dinners" in a five-star hotel in Berlin, with a federal minister as speaker. And when Huber deviated from the common line of the churches on the topic of stem cell research, the Catholic side learned about it from the media. There is no great commentary.The new ecumenical style may make it more difficult to be heard together in politics and society. The unanimous admonition to focus on the common good, which both churches presented in November in the 50-page Joint Word "Democracy Needs Virtues," was still impressive. In 2006, the Church's occasional counter-speech to politics focused on family policy and social system reforms.

The church in debates on values

The managing director of the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research, Renate Kocher, is uncertain whether the churches play a major role in fundamental value debates. "The question is whether they are not too preoccupied with themselves to take on board the need for orientation and the greater openness to religious ies," she said in an interview. There have long been other forces in this game as well. The productive unfolding of the papal remarks on "Faith and Reason" has long since gone through all the newspaper feuilletons. Philosophers, Zeitgeist Authors, Sociologists of Religion Discuss.In early December, the Herbert Quandt Foundation invited business, science and media representatives to a small table in Berlin. In 2006 and 2007, the foundation focused on the question of the social center in Germany.High above Paris Square, a Catholic moral theologian lectured on the role of the church. The evening was just one example of an approach to the ie in the extra-church realm. And at the Bertelsmann Foundation, founder Reinhard Mohn kicked off the extensive project "The Role of Religion in Modern Society". It is to be dedicated to the cultural-sociological meaning of religion. A first "religion monitoring" is scheduled for 2007. So conversation partners and topics are there. It remains to be seen how the church will approach the dialogue.

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