THE CHURCH in Germany has strong institutions that contribute much to society, but Christianity is much bigger than its institutions, the Pope has told the country’s bishops. “One can truly speak of an erosion of the Catholic faith in Germany,” the Pope said in a written speech handed to the bishops last week. The bishops were ending their ad limina visit to the Vatican.
“Where in the 1960s almost every faithful everywhere attended Mass every Sunday, today it frequently is less than 10 per cent,” the Pope said. “People approach the sacraments less often. The Sacrament of Penance has almost disappeared. Fewer and fewer Catholics are confirmed or contract a Catholic marriage. The number of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and consecrated life has diminished significantly.”
To respond to the situation, the Pope said, the bishops and other Catholics must “overcome the resignation that paralyses” and undertake a “pastoral conversion”. Using the example of Priscilla and Aquila, whose missionary work is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis said the Church needed people of faith who witness to the truth of Christ’s love. It would be a mistake, the Pope said, to create new structures when there are no Catholics to support them. “It is a kind of neo-Pelagianism that leads us to put faith in administrative structures, in perfect organisation,” he said. “An excessive centralisation complicates the life of the Church and its missionary dynamism.” Pope Francis asked the German bishops to stress the importance of Confession during the Year of Mercy. Confession, he said, is where “the transformation of every single faithful and the reform of the Church itself begin”.
Nuncio given two standing ovations at bishops’ meeting
THE US BISHOPS have given two standing ovations to the nuncio behind the Pope’s controversial meeting with Kim Davis, who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licences. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò was making his customary address to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, his first major public appearance since the controversy. The archbishop turns 75 in January, the age when bishops are required to offer their resignations to the Pope.
The ambassador had invited Ms Davis, a Kentucky clerk, to be among those greeting the Pope at the Vatican embassy in Washington in September. Her lawyer announced the meeting soon after Francis returned to Rome, describing it as a papal affirmation of Ms Davis’s conscientious objection. The Vatican insisted the meeting was not an endorsement and said she was one of several dozen people who had greeted Francis.
Ms Davis had briefly gone to jail rather than comply with a court order to issue same-sex marriage licences, becoming a lightning rod for tensions over the US Supreme Court ruling that legalised gay marriage nationwide.
Christmas tree arrives in Rome
CHRISTMAS may be a month away, but the Vatican’s tree is already up in St Peter’s Square. The tree has been installed early to make sure it is ready for the Year of Mercy, which begins on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The 82ft spruce fir from Bavaria will not be lit until December 18.
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