From Abuse Crisis, Germany's Roman Catholics Seek Reform

By Marquand, Robert | The Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

From Abuse Crisis, Germany's Roman Catholics Seek Reform


Marquand, Robert, The Christian Science Monitor


The Roman Catholic priest sex abuse crisis is prompting Germany's faithful to revisit the spiritual roots of their church.

Revelations of child abuse by priests in Europe and the United States are a crisis for the Roman Catholic church. But they are also leading Catholics to speak more freely, raising reform voices among lay members, priests, and theologians.

The top priority for many Catholics is generating a more spiritual and biblical focus for the church and ending a traditional "two-track" Catholicism, where priests are implicitly considered to have a higher religious nature. They also see the abuse crisis as part of a deeper malaise and hypocrisy that can still be redeemed.

In Germany, Pope Benedict's native land, where the abuse crisis hit suddenly and hard in a series of cases since January, some dioceses have reported surging defections by parishioners. Devout Catholics have been reeling, but are also searching to restore moral credibility to a church they love.

Reformist Catholic theologian Hans Kung, who is censured by Rome, called it "the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation" in an April 18 open letter to Catholic bishops. Mr. Kung laid out plans for change and charged the pope with having sent "a solemn document" in 2001 to all bishops telling them to keep abuse violations secret.

'The only way to be credible again'

But reform voices also include that of Wolfgang Sturm, a craggy- faced mechanical engineer who for 19 years has been part of a lay Catholic council in Munich. Mr. Sturm says he "is in the church because I believe Jesus Christ's message from 2,000 years ago." Last week at a sprawling Catholic school and sports complex in a Munich suburb, Sturm called, along with some 150 other lay Catholics, for church leaders to fess up clearly.

"I want them to stand in front of the people and say it doesn't matter how much pedophilia there is in the secular world, or in families, or by soccer coaches. I want them to stand and say this crisis is our responsibility and we admit it. It is the only way to ever be credible again," he told one smaller group.

With the priesthood in crisis, many lay council members want to go into the community and try to restore the image of the church. Sturm, like an estimated 70 percent of German Catholics, has "no problem" with married priests and thinks the rules on mandatory celibacy should be changed.

For retired Munich businessman Rudiger Bruggemann, a lifelong Catholic, the crisis has brought to a head the "main question" of his life: "Do you stay in the church or do you leave? I stay because it is the only way to help. You have no voice if you leave," he says. "But at this point, after 74 years, I can no longer take things at face value. Our problems are extensive, and we need the message of Christ, not of institution.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

From Abuse Crisis, Germany's Roman Catholics Seek Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?