The Bishop of Hildesheim Heiner Wilmer wrote his new book when the coronavirus pandemic reached its peak in Germany and around the world. It is titled “TRÄGT”, (what does it say) “Supports” and has as its subtitle: “The art of believing in hope and love”.
In fact, he was planning to publish his next book on another occasion. Only a few years from now would his new work appear with the title: “What is the essence of Christianity based on?”.
“We have all heard that the coronavirus takes the ground beneath our feet. The big questions that arise are: what will support me if I lose the ground where I stand, if I fall, if I can’t get up or go back, but even if Despite this critical question to the churches, he said, they did not back down during the lockdown, as they were sometimes reprimanded. In relation to the liturgical celebrations that failed, he said he was convinced that “we cannot proclaim life and at the same time endanger life”. He recalled the many “marvelous initiatives” such as streaming masses, WhatsApp liturgical groups, impulses for domestic churches, charitable offerings such as services for expenses or pastoral care through the telephone.
WhatsApp, the impulses for home churches, charitable offerings such as services for expenses or pastoral care through the telephone.
The churches, he stressed, saw the needs of the people: “We noticed the enormous burden that families and children had to carry. We saw the economic concerns of workers and employers. But everything was so new that at first we didn’t talk about it on a federal level”.
Today the Church is clearly taking a stand, for example, on the fact that people must die alone: “Dramatic things have happened in this regard, and this cannot be accepted! In homes for the elderly we need a new way of thinking and corresponding protective ideas so that long-term guests and their families can meet not only from a distance.
It is important to solve the paradox that too much proximity can kill, but that no proximity sometimes causes death.
In recent times the “synodal path” has continued in Germany. The topics concern the power and separation of powers in the Church, the sexual morality of the Church, the celibacy of priests and women in Church services and ministries. Also in this regard it is due to the coronavirus if there were many regional conferences rather than a further meeting at the federal level. For Bishop Wilmer, this decision was an “excellent step”. In the small groups the personal approach was easier and the exchange of ideas easier, everyone was listened to. “Personally, I found this way very collaborative.
In his opinion, the path that awaits the German church is complex. But, he emphasized, “I am sure we will be able to move forward. It is already fantastic to be together. There are so many different men and women on the way, all with a passion for the Church and a strong will. Everyone is looking for an answer to the question: how can we live the message of Jesus, who frees and sustains?
Wilmer is also convinced that the Church in Germany cannot travel this road alone, but that it must broaden its gaze and connect with neighboring countries and the universal church.
At the same time he said that he feels calm about “dependence” on the universal church. There is a whole series of points that we bishops can implement”. He brought as an example the question of power, the transmission of responsibility.
In canon law, there are possibilities not yet used, “to be able to entrust baptized women and men with tasks of responsibility”.