We Are Church (Germany)
»Wir sind Kirche« c/o Christian Weisner
Hildesheimer Str. 103 D-30173 Hannover
Tel.: +49(0)511-80 00 10 Fax : +49(0)511-988 60 50
International Coordinator: Thomas Arens
Good response to We Are Church programme at Ecumenical Church Congress in Berlin
We Are Church offered an extensive programme at the first Ecumenical Church Congress in Berlin (28th May to 1st June, 2003) that met a lot of people’s approval. The discussion with Professor Dr. Hans Kueng and Bishop Jacques Gaillot, both invited by We Are Church to come to Berlin, was one of the best attended events at the Church Congress. Among other countries our guests were from France, Great Britain, Italy/ South Tyrol, Austria, Russia and the Czech Republic.
We Are Church prepared three ecumenical services together with the “Initiative Church from below” (IKvu) and a Protestant parish in Berlin: a Catholic and a Protestant service in which Christians from the other denomination were invited to come to the altar, too (= eucharistic hospitality) and a “meal of solidarity” with poor people and people on the fringes of our society. These services had not been accepted in the official programme and have already provoked intensive discussions inside the Church and in the public about the absence of joint communion.
Disciplining of Catholic priests for “eucharistic hospitality”
Professor Dr. Gotthold Hasenhuettl, chairman of the international “Paulusgesellschaft”, has been suspended as a priest since he had invited not only Catholics to come to the altar. However, the suspension has not taken effect yet, as he has lodged an appeal with the Vatican. For the time being, Minister Bernhard Kroll, who had preached in the other ecumenical service and had accepted communion from the hands of a Protestant minister, has been prohibited from performing as a priest and carrying out any priesterly functions because of “forbidden liturgical community”. Detailed information about all activities of We Are Church at the Church Congress as well as its actions of solidarity for Minister Kroll and Professor Hasenhuettl are to be found under www.wir-sind-kirche.de/oekt/
Protest against the intrusion on lay committees by Bavarian bishops of Eichstaett and Regensburg
Arguing that We Are Church was not on Catholic grounds the Bishop of Eichstaett, Dr. Walter Mixa, terminated the local group’s right to attend the meetings of the diocese council and prevented the discussing of its applying for membership in that council.
In April the new Bishop of Regensburg, Dr. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, had dismissed Professor Dr. Johannes Grabmeier as chairman of a Catholic council of local parishes and as a member of the diocese council because of his being involved with We Are Church. The President of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Professor Dr. Hans-Joachim Meyer, also joined with clear words the protest against the exclusions and the bishops’ intruding in the lay committees. In the meantime Professor Grabmeier has been rehabilitated, after signing a document containing also fairly problematic passages.
Participating in the second European Women’s Synod from 5th to 10th August 2003 in Barcelona
Several women of We Are Church – Germany took part in it. Further information: www.synodalia.net
We Are Church national meeting “Women and ministry in the Roman-Catholic Church”
“Women and ministry in the Roman-Catholic Church” will be the main topic of the 14th public national meeting of We Are Church from 24th to 26th October 2003 in Frankfurt/ Main. The three woman theologians Dr. Ida Raming (one of the woman priests ordained on the Danube on 29th June 2002), Sr. Dr. Ruth Schäfer (nun in the order of the “Sisters of medical mission”) and Angelika Fromm ( trained as a woman deacon) will present different kinds of vocation in our church.
Critical accompanying of the World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne
We Are Church and We Are Church/ Youth are planning to accompany this international meeting critically.
Everybody is welcome to join; further information: www.wir-sind-kirche.de/jugend / www.we-are-church.org/youth
Mourning for Horst Goldstein and Dorothee Soelle
The Catholic liberation theologian Dr. Horst Goldstein (* 1939), the German translator of Leonardo Boff, died in a car accident on 22nd April 2003. The Protestant theologian Professor Dr. Dorothee Soelle (* 1929) died of a heart attack during a conference on 27th April 2003.
(Translated from German into English by Renate Holmes.)
As at September 2003.
Joint Communion is Heavy Affront to the Ecumenical Movement"
Call for Solidarity with the Minister Bernhard Kroll from Eichstaett
Hanover, Bonn, Berlin, 10th June, 2003. The Catholic reform movement "We Are Church", the ecumenical network "Initiative Church from below" (IKvu) and the Protestant parish "Prenzlauer Berg Nord" in Berlin regard the suspending on reduced pay of the priest Bernhard Kroll as an unjustified disciplinary action and a heavy affront to the ecumenical movement.
The bishop's decree minister Kroll received on Friday night states that, for the time being, Kroll must not perform as priest in Dietenhofen-Grosshabersdorf (Middle Franconia/ Bavaria), celebrate the holy mass or carry out any priesterly functions in the diocese of Eichstaett (can. 1336 § 1 n. 3 CIC). In addition Kroll has to retreat to a place outside the diocese, accompanied by a spiritual mentor, to reflect and to find mental and spiritual reorientation. This expiatory punishment was imposed by the bishop of Eichstaett, Dr Walter Mixa, as he constituted "forbidden liturgical community" (can. 1365 CIC).
In the opinion of the reform groups and the Protestant parish with which Kroll celebrated the service in Berlin Bishop Mixa's reaction is out of all proportion, and that in canonical, theological and pastoral respects. The way he deals with the case will do heavy damage to the reputation of the Catholic church. By solemnly signing the Charta Oecumenica on the national "Ecumenical Church Day", the Roman Catholic church, too, has committed herself to pursue the aim of eucharistic community. Imposing ecclesiastical
punishment for accepting eucharistic hospitality in a Protestant service, which amounts to banning the priest concerned from pursuing his profession, is a heavy affront to the ecumenical movement and to the Protestant church.
We welcome the moving messages of solidarity of Kroll's parish in Dietenhofen- Grosshabersdorf and the "Catholic Young Community" (KJG) in the diocese of Eichstaett. Additionally we call upon priests and laypersons, Catholic and Protestant Christians alike, to show their solidarity with the priest Bernhard Kroll and to ask Bishop Dr Mixa to reverse the ecclesiastical punishment he has imposed. Within only a few days several hundreds of solidarity messages from at home and abroad have been sent to both reform groups, but also to the special website "Joint Communion ('Gemeinsame Mahlfeier') at the Ecumenical Church Day" in the Internet forum of the diocese of Eichstaett.
Kroll had preached during an ecumenical celebration and accepted communion from the hands of a Protestant minister. The harsh decision of the bishop of Eichstaett is all the more incomprehensible, as Kroll was neither taking part in any interdenominational concelebration nor intercelebration. Only recently the three renowned ecumenical institutes of Tuebingen, Strasbourg and Bensheim have shown the strong theological grounds mutual eucharistic hospitality in a Catholic or Protestant service stands on.
For decades eucharistic hospitality has been part of many parishes' ecumenical life, and in this spirit Bernhard Kroll and hundreds of Catholics took up the invitation on 31st May during the Protestant service in Gethsemane Church Berlin.
Solidarity messages are to be sent to:
"We Are Church", Hildesheimer Str. 103, D-30173 Hanover fax: +49(0)1212-5 28
97 34 98 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; guest book on the page
Initiative Church from below (IKvu), Heerstraße 205, D-53111 Bonn fax:
+49(0)228 - 631226, E-Mail: email@example.com Internet:
Bishop Dr. Walter Mixa, Postfach 13 54, D-85067 Eichstaett fax: +49(0)8421 -
50209 E-Mail: BistumEichstaett@t-online.de Internet forum of the diocese of
Further information :
Initiative Church from below (IKvu), c/o Thomas Wystrach, Fon (mobile):
+49(0)174-5146358, Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholic reform movement "We Are Church", c/o Christian Weisner, Fon:
+49(0)511-800010, Mail: email@example.com
Eight Years After The Church Referendum . . .
Action focus: Ecumenical Church Congress in Berlin, 28th May to 1st June 2003
Instead of the annual, alternating Catholic or Protestant Church Congresses (other countries do not have any gatherings of that size) there will be the first Ecumenical Church Congress in Berlin this year. We Are Church will offer an extensive programme throughout these five days.
The woman Bishop of the Hussiti Church Jana Silorová (Czech Republic) and the woman vicar of the Anglican Church Rev. Jutta Brueck-Seeley (London) will be international guests in the debate "Women + Position + Power". In another big discussion event Professor Dr. Hans Kueng, Bishop Jacques Gaillot, Dr. Piotr Sakharov (Moscow; he was guest of the European Network meeting in Woking/GB in January 2001) and many other male and female Christians will talk about their commitment in today’s world as Christians.
Despite longheld hopes there will only be ecumenical liturgies of the word, but no ecumenical liturgies of the eucharist. Many Christians are very disappointed about that. There are about as many Catholics as Protestants in Germany. Guided by strong theological reasons and supported by many theologians We Are Church has been supporting the practising of ecumenical hospitality for a long time, and it has been common practice in many parishes for years.
Therefore, together with the ecumenical network "Initiative Church from below” (Ikvu) and a Protestant parish in Berlin, three ecumenical services are being prepared: a Catholic and a Protestant service in which Christians from the other denomination will be invited to come to the altar, too (i.e. eucharistic hospitality), and a "meal of solidarity” with poor people and people on the fringes of our society. These services did not get accepted in the official programme and have already provoked intensive discussions inside the Church and in the public. The Vatican has announced an encyclical on the Eucharist for Maundy Thursday (17th April 2003).
èEverybody is very welcome to come to this Ecumenical Congress in Berlin, 28th May to 1st June 2003.
Action focus: Sexual abuse in the Church
After decades of hushing up and concealing the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference passed guidelines in September 2002 on "How to deal with sexual abuse of miners through clergymen within the range of the German Bishops’ Conference”.
In letters to the German bishops We Are Church had formulated a precise catalogue of demands which included independent Ombud places, investigating all earlier cases of suspicion and compensation for the victims. Several protests, organised together with "Initiative Church from below" (Initiative Kirche von unten IKvu) and other organizations, helped stressing these demands.
In a number of points the Bishops’ Conference used the reformers’ demands for orientation. However, the bishops’ guidelines are far from sufficient. At the end of June 2002 We Are Church set up the "Zypresse” emergency telephone line (in Germany: 0180-3000862) which has been contacted by 70 victims so far. Further information: laakmann@ic marl.de
Further activities of the We Are Church Germany
"More democracy in Church is possible and necessary"
The 11th national meeting in March 2002 had the title "More democracy in Church is possible and necessary”. With its "Letter at Pentecost 2002” We Are Church encouraged all members of parish councils to take on more responsibility for the future of their own parishes.
Counselling of pregnant women in need: 5th counselling centre set up
There had been years of dispute over the involvement of the Catholic Church in the counselling of pregnant women in need. In the summer of 2002 the Vatican finally forced the last remaining German Catholic bishop (of 27 all in all) to drop out of the legal system of counselling women in need. According to German law abortion, though not permitted, does not get punished when the pregnant woman had gone to counselling before. The group "Frauenwuerde" (Dignity of Women), a working group of We Are Church Germany, has conducted four counselling centres in different towns since 2000, and opened up its fifth centre in October 2002. Further information: www.frauenwuerde.de
Ordaining of women priests: Excommunication is no solution
Again and again We Are Church has pointed out that it is a scandal that Rome refuses the ordaining of women despite no biblical footing for their attitude. We Are Church criticized in strong terms the excommunication of the seven women from Germany, Austria and the USA who had been ordained on 29th June 2002.
Woman deaconship: The world’s first preparation course completed
Thirteen women, among them also women of the campaign "Purple Stole” from We Are Church Germany took part in a three-year-course and, despite their refusal to ordain them, are now offering their bishops to become active as followers of Jesus Christ.
Campaign "Purple Stole"
As every year the ordaining of priests and deacons will be accompanied by activities of the campaign Purple Stole. On the World Day of Prayer for Women Ordination (25th March) there will be a public service again in front of Cologne cathedral.
We Are Church- Youth at the World Youth Summit 2002 in Toronto
Two representatives of We Are Church-Youth were at the World Youth Summit in Toronto as observers and took an active part in the alternative World Youth Summit which took place there at the same time. Even Radio Vatican reported on that. Further information: www.we-are Church.org/youth
Protest against the war on Iraq
We Are Church supported the declaration of "pax christi" on 10th February 2003 on the Iraq conflict as well as the alliance "15th February”, and it was involved in the demonstrations in Berlin on the European action day against the war on Iraq.
Discussing strategies of Church reform
Several articles in the critical Christian journal PUBLIK-FORUM (it was considerably involved in the carrying out of the Church referendum in Germany in 1995) have triggered intensive debates: Is the Roman Catholic Church capable of reforming itself, and, in January 2003, what are the right strategies for the We Are Church Movement? These articles are a good impulse for We Are Church to rekindle the discussion of the always present question of success and strategies.
Bishop Mixa: "We Are Church is not on Catholic ground”
The Bishop of Eichstaett (Bavaria) Dr. Walter Mixa has declined the efforts of We Are Church to be represented in the Catholic Council of the diocese as a Catholic group. We Are Church is protesting against this exclusion, as the demands of the Church referendum do not touch essential questions of faith but actual Church politics. The We are Church group in the diocese of Eichstätt has urged their bishop to have a clarifying talk with them.
(March 2003, translated by Renate Holmes, Dach/Germany)