In a letter addressed directly to German Catholics, Pope Francis encourages a true reform, to come out of the present crisis of the Church in Germany.
At a time of “change,” which raises new and old questions, Pope Francis writes that “a debate” is necessary, in a letter made public on June 29, 2019, to accompany the synodal journey decided by the country’s Bishops. It’s about working on sexual abuses, the aging of communities, the lack of vocations, the rejection of Catholic sexual doctrine, the lifestyle of priests.
“Vatican News” notes that the Holy Father doesn’t offer ready-made solutions, but he calls for unity. “Every time that an ecclesial community has sought to come out of is problems all alone, trusting only on its own strength and its methods and its intelligence, it has ended up by multiplying and fuelling the evils it wished to overcome.”
In a context of the “dying of the faith . . . not only at the spiritual but also at the social and cultural level,” he hails the “sense of responsibility and generosity” of German Catholics, as well as their ecumenical efforts.
The Pontiff invites them to leave room for the Holy Spirit in order to foster “processes that build us as People of God instead of looking for immediate results with premature and media consequences.”
In the letter, the Holy Father also laments the temptation to “believe that the best response to numerous problems and to the existing lack of reorganization,” and the need to “change things” is . . . “to order and render ecclesial life easier by adapting it to present-day logic or that of a particular group.”
He pleads for a “pastoral conversion,” which doesn’t spell either adaptation or traditionalism. Evangelization, he stresses, is not “a re-positioning tactic of the Church in today’s world,” or “an attempt to rediscover habits and practices that had meaning in other cultural contexts.”
For Pope Francis, the Beatitudes give the objectives for a true reform: to start moving to meet brothers and sisters of the peripheries, avoiding ending up “isolated in one’s particularities.” “The challenges that await us, the varied questions and the emerging demands cannot be ignored or hidden, but must be addressed by being careful not to remain blocked in them, or losing sight of them, by reducing our horizons and the reality,” he concludes.