Cologne, St. Patrick’s Day 2021 [3/17/2021]
Dear Holy Father, dear pope Francis,
I’m a 65 year old former teacher, married to my wife B. and father to our three adult children M., M. and M. I’m doing a minor course of study of Theology at the KHKT (Koelner Hochschule fuer katholische Theologie). At first, I want to express that I very much appreciated your recent visit in Iraq and your support and encouragement of the remaining Christians there. I moreover am very thankful that you showed for years a way for a humbler church close to the people instead of a vain and self-satisfied church.
I’m writing to you since the Catholic church in Germany and even more in the diocese Cologne is on a steep decline. Some severe problems make people leave the church by hundreds per week. The people exiting the Catholic church are not those who want to spare their taxation money, these people have been gone a long time ago. In most cases at present the people leaving were faithful believers or even engaged as servers or occupied honorary posts. But now they can’t stand the neglecting of some problems by the leading persons in this diocese any more.
Handling of the sexual violence deeds committed by clerics. The most urgent problem is how sexual violence was executed on minors by clerics in the past and how these terrible deeds are treated by our archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki and his staff. Maybe, that our archbishop was once willing to do the unpleasant work of purging the clergy from those men who did the utmost damage to the eu angelion. But in this process, he more and more put the loyalty towards e.g. his former mentor Johannes O. from Duesseldorf above the loyalty and responsibility towards the victims. Even more inadequate seems to me that archbishop Woelki refused to support M. Sch. adequately. Sch. lived in Waldbroehl and was raped again and again by a priest when he was a small child (see the newspaper article enclosed*). Sch. decided later to become a priest as well, but suffered severely from the sexual violence received as a child. In his crisis he was left alone by the church that should have felt obliged to diminish the damage done and to give this man any support possible.
That a second expert’s report on sexual violence committed by the clergy was ordered by archbishop Woelki postponed the whole process of enlightment and cleansing for far to many months.
Consequently, our archbishop has in fact lost almost any credibility. If he and his staff remain in their position, the number of believers will shrink at a much higher speed compared to now. We urgently need fresh persons at the top who can convincingly deliver again the eu angelion, the good news.
Handling of lesbian and homosexual Christians. In my parish St. Peter, Cologne, Jabachstrasse, lead by Jesuits and offering high profile arts and music, the every day life is strongly linked with homosexual and lesbian believers. They belong to the core of this parish and they participate with their partners in all services and duties available. Therefore, I felt repelled when I got to know that you forbade the blessing of lesbian and homosexual couples recently. My conviction is that Augustinus was right saying Dilige et fac ut vis. In my view, we can not devide between different kinds of love. It’s all the same. I would therefore like to ask you to take back this order.
Women and church. Last, but not least I would like to mention the position of women in the church. I appreciate that my wife can now give people a Christian burial in our parish in Koeln Ehrenfeld / Ossendorf. But this should not be the end of it. I ask you to consider that women are allowed to be ordained as deacons. There were some very important women supporting Jesus and his announcement of the basileia, the kingdom of God: Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Jesus, Salome, Junia (mentioned in Rom 16,7) to name a few. They were the first to show up at Jesus’ grave after his crucifixion, when many of the male supporters of Jesus remained behind closed doors. I think it’s high time that the Catholic church recognizes the importance of the female part of the church. There is a big need for full-time workers for the kingdom of God.
I apologize for revealing more bad than good news. I hope you will continue supporting in general those women and men inside the church that stand for a second step of aggiornamento without kicking off the valuable things of the tradition church has to offer.
I hope you have some more years in good or at least sufficient health.
The almighty God may bless you
*This article can’t be enclosed due to copyright restrictions.
Normally I would keep such a letter in due privacy. But I feel this much “fed up” by the continued stubbornness of the leading clerics of the Cologne diocese that I decided to make it public on my blog.